September 20, 2017 / 6:57 AM / a year ago

Australia shares trim losses to end slightly lower; NZ up

(Updates to close)

By Chris Thomas

Sept 20 (Reuters) - Australian shares trimmed early losses to close marginally lower on Wednesday, helped by gains in health care and industrial stocks, and as some banks climbed back from heavy falls earlier in the session.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.1 percent, or 4.48 points, to 5,709.10 at the close of trade. The benchmark fell 0.1 percent on Tuesday.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia scrambled back from a 0.8 percent drop early on to finish slightly higher, while Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd closed down about 0.6 percent each.

The benchmark financial index fell as much as 0.9 percent in the session after ANZ said in a note it sees the Reserve Bank of Australia tightening the cash rate by 50 basis points to 2 percent in 2018, reversing the rate cuts of 2016 and taking the real (inflation adjusted) cash rate back to zero.

“Even though raising the cash rate is good for their (banks’) margins in the long term, I think there is still a view that it could impact the psyche of the housing market which is so leveraged at the moment,” said Chris Weston, an institutional dealer with IG Markets.

Meanwhile, biotherapeutics company CSL Ltd took away some of the heat on the benchmark by posting a 2.1 percent gain, climbing to a two-and-a-half month closing high.

Pallets and container group Brambles Ltd ended higher for a third straight session, rising 4.3 percent to its highest in four weeks.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.7 percent, or 54.71 points higher, to finish the session at 7,819.24, its best close in a week.

Medical device maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd was the biggest boost on the index, rising 2.5 percent, while A2 Milk climbed 1.9 percent to post a one-week closing high. (Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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