March 31, 2017 / 6:13 AM / 8 months ago

Aussie shares slip on losses in banking shares; NZ up

(Updates to close)

March 31 (Reuters) - Australian shares finished lower on Friday, weighed down by losses in financials as investors repositioned themselves after a strong rally on Thursday.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 31.3 points or 0.53 percent to 5,864.9 at the close of trade.

The market managed to keep its head above water this week, climbing 1.94 percent versus last week’s 0.8 percent decline. It rose for a fourth straight quarter, its longest winning streak since June 2014.

Financial stocks fell 0.58 percent after their longest daily bull run since Oct. 10, 2016.

Three of the “Big Four” banks fell less than 1 percent, while ANZ Banking slipped 1.39 percent after 11.6 million shares changed hands, twice the 30-day average.

BHP Billiton failed to impress, falling 0.91 percent this week, and 0.12 percent on the day, hurt by a 2 percent drop in Chinese iron ore futures.

Oil prices, which fell on profit-taking on Friday, further undermined BHP, which has significant exposure to the sector.

Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search , Beach Energy and Santos fell 0.8 percent to 1.3 percent. The energy index fell 0.9 percent after six straight gaining sessions. It rose 2.12 percent this quarter.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index climbed 0.38 percent or 27.67 points to 7,196.78.

The index rose 4.6 percent this quarter, compared with a 6.52 percent loss in the previous quarter.

Telecom and consumer discretionary stocks led overall gains. Spark New Zealand, up 1.45 percent, was the top performer on the index, followed by Contact Energy which rose 1.4 percent. (Reporting by Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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