January 22, 2013 / 5:44 AM / 5 years ago

Australia shares end flat after notching 20-mth high

(Adds details, comments)
    SYDNEY, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended a
volatile trading day flat, retreating from a fresh 20-month high
hit earlier on Tuesday with the Bank of Japan's asset buying
plans to stimulate the economy failing to bolster investor
confidence as they had been largely factored in. 
    "Right up until the Bank of Japan decision people were in a
holding pattern," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at
IG Markets. "We traded in Australia above 4,800 and then there
was position squaring going into the Bank of Japan meeting given
the expectations that were built in."
    The S&P/ASX 200 index finished the day 1.6 points
higher at 4,779.1, after peaking at 4,801.7 during trade. The
benchmark inched up 0.1 percent to hit a 20-month high of
4,777.5 on Monday.
    The Bank of Japan doubled its inflation target to 2 percent
and eased monetary policy further, a widely expected move in
response to relentless political pressure for bolder action to
pull the country out of deflation. 
    Weston said investors were taking profits off the table.
    "The volatility now is just surrounded by what we've seen,"
he said. 
    Global miners BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd
 were up 0.1 percent and 0.7 percent respectively.
    Gold finished the day weaker as the metal remained flat.
Newcrest Mining Ltd slipped 0.2 percent. Perseus Mining
Ltd lost 5.9 percent on the back of a disappointing
production report which showed gold production was 13 percent
below revised production guidance range for the quarter.
    Banks were mixed. National Australia Bank dropped 1
percent on a report that Spanish bank Santander denied
speculation it is interested in buying NAB's troubled British
banks. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group slipped
0.1 percent. Australia's top lender the Commonwealth Bank of
Australia rose 0.6 percent, while Westpac Banking Corp
 finished flat.
    The defensive sector was mostly firmer. Telecommunications
provider Telstra inched up 0.2 percent. Supermarket
retailer Woolworths Ltd climbed 1.1 percent. Blood
products maker CSL Ltd, bucked the trend, easing 0.4
percent.
    New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index also finished
flat, up 1.9 points to 4,187.1.


 (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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