January 19, 2018 / 6:28 AM / a month ago

Australia shares edge lower as miners slide; NZ up

* Materials weigh on Australian shares

* Gold index slips for the fourth consecutive session

* NZ posts ninth weekly gain in 10 (Updates to close)

Jan 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged lower on Friday as mining stocks slipped following weakness in commodity prices, though gains in consumer staples and healthcare stocks helped stem some of the decline.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.2 percent, or 8.8 points to 6,005.8 at the close of trade. It fell 1.1 percent over the week, a second consecutive weekly fall.

The materials sector was the biggest drag on the benchmark, weighed down by the gold index which slipped 1.3 percent to fall for a fourth straight session.

Gold prices have come under pressure recently from higher U.S. Treasury yields. Gold is a non-yielding asset so rising bond yields put its price under pressure.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd closed 2 percent lower hitting a near one-month closing low, while peer Northern Star Resources fell 1.5 percent.

Among iron ore miners, mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd fell 0.3 percent, while Rio Tinto slipped over 1 percent.

Iron ore futures in China edged lower on Friday heading for their first weekly drop in three weeks, as slower demand stalled a rally in steel prices after they surged nearly 50 percent last year.

The country’s financial index was marginally down with National Australia Bank shedding 0.2 percent.

However, gains in consumer staples and healthcare stocks capped some of the losses on the benchmark index.

Treasury Wine Estates Ltd gained 2.7 percent, rising for a fourth straight session, while biotherapeutics company CSL Ltd added 1.1 percent to hit its highest close in more than six weeks.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.21 percent or 17.29 points to finish the session at 8,289.96. The index added 0.6 percent over the week.

Consumer staples and healthcare stocks led the gains on the benchmark with a2 Milk Company closing 2.8 percent higher and Ryman Healthcare rising 1.3 percent.

Reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer

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