May 18, 2018 / 7:02 AM / 4 days ago

Materials drag Aussie shares lower, offset record CSL gains; NZ rises

* Aussie shares snap six weeks of gains

* Lower commodity prices weigh on miners

* Auckland International Airport posts near 9-month closing high (Updates to close)

May 18 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended slightly lower on Friday as weak commodity prices hit material stocks, tempering a rally in the healthcare sector which was buoyed by shares of biotherapeutics firm CSL Ltd after an earnings upgrade.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.1 percent, or 6.9 points, lower at 6,087.4. The benchmark fell 0.5 percent this week, ending a six-week winning streak.

The healthcare index closed at a record-high led by CSL Ltd, which jumped 4.1 percent to an all-time high, after the biotherapeutics company raised its full-year net profit for the second time this year, underpinned by a severe influenza season in northern hemisphere.

The healthcare index rose 2.4 percent over the week.

Weak commodity prices weighed on material stocks, with major miners BHP and Rio Tinto, down over 1 percent each, among the biggest decliners on the benchmark.

Chinese steel futures fell to a one-week low on Friday, with supply rising and concerns of seasonal recovery in demand ending soon.

In the financial sector, lender Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose 0.6 percent while its ‘Big Four’ peers fell between 0.7 percent to 0.9 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.6 percent, or 53.95 points, to 8,657.33. However, the benchmark fell slightly on the week after rising for the past three.

Auckland International Airport was the biggest gainer on the index, rising 2.4 percent to a near nine month closing high.

Ryman Healthcare closed 2.5 percent higher, after reporting a 14 percent jump in its full-year profit.

Reporting by Sumeet Gaikwad in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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