Oct 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares pulled marginally ahead on Tuesday as materials stocks rode strong metal prices, although financials and consumer shares kept the index in a narrow trading range.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 4.94 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,898.9 at 0044 GMT, and was headed for its ninth session of gains in 10. The benchmark snapped an eight-session winning streak to fall 0.2 percent on Monday.
“The market has had a strong couple of weeks, and it looks like it’s pausing before further rallies into the Christmas, New Year period,” said Adam Tout, a senior analyst at CPS Capital in Perth.
Miner South32 Ltd rose as much as 1.9 percent in its biggest intra-day percentage gain in nearly three weeks, while Newcrest Mining advanced 1.2 percent as the gold price steadied after hitting its lowest in more than two weeks.
Retail property developer Scentre Group also added some gains to the index, rising as much as 1.8 percent, its biggest single-day gain in a week.
Financial stocks, meanwhile, wallowed in the red, tracking weakness on Wall Street overnight.
Three of the “Big Four” banks traded slightly lower, while Westpac Banking Corp lingered in positive territory.
U.S. stocks retreated from record positions on Monday as technology and industrial shares weighed on Wall Street indexes.
Australian grocery giant Woolworths Ltd slipped 1.1 percent to a one-week low, dragging on the index.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 5.72 points, or 0.1 percent, to 8,135.27 at 0044 GMT.
The a2 Milk Company Ltd rose as much as 4.9 percent to hit an all-time high, and was the top percentage gainer on the benchmark.
Retirement village operator Ryman Healthcare Ltd fell more than 4.2 percent to its lowest in more than 12 weeks. Deutsche Bank downgraded the stock to “sell” from “hold” on Monday and cut its target price. (Reporting by Chris Thomas in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)