3 Min Read
(Updates to close)
Feb 22 (Reuters) - Australian shares snapped a three-day losing streak, ending marginally higher on Wednesday as gains by consumer stocks offset losses in many financial counters.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.2 percent, or 14.071 points, to 5805.10 at the close of trade.
The benchmark financial index slipped for a second consecutive session, losing 0.7 percent.
The country's biggest mortgage lender, Commonwealth Bank of Australia at one point was down 3 percent, its biggest intraday loss in over three months. The stock, which is trading ex-dividend, ended the day off 2.6 percent.
The other three of the "Big Four" banks closed higher, with gains between 0.4 and 0.8 percent.
Media monitoring and analytics company iSentia Group was the biggest loser on the index, falling to an all-time low of A$1.67 after it said first-half core earnings fell 13 percent.
Telecommunications service provider Vocus Group Ltd , the biggest gainer on the benchmark index, closed 10.2 percent higher after a jump in its half-year revenue and profit.
Beverages distributor Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd rose to a near two-year high after its annual profit rose 6 percent.
Miners were off as much as 0.8 percent before finishing the day 0.3 percent down. Giant BHP Billiton fell 0.7 percent for the day.
Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group Ltd declined 2.7 percent, after its half-year results fell short of market expectations.
The energy index added 1 percent, climbing for a second straight session on strong oil prices.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.7 percent lower, dragged down by consumer stocks.
Fletcher Building Ltd sinks as much as 7.4 percent to its lowest in around four months after it said the global market outlook was uncertain.
Subscription television provider Sky Network Television closed 2.7 percent lower after its half-year profit fell 32 percent.
A New Zealand court on Wednesday ruled that a 36-hour pause must take place before Sky Network can buy Vodafone's New Zealand unit if the competition regulator approves the deal. (Reporting by Sandhya Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)