XFJ 3.71% 4,614.0 s&p/asx 200 financial

News: XFJ Australia shares fall as financials drag; NZ up for 7th day

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    May 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares snapped seven straight sessions of gains to end Tuesday lower as financial stocks fell after Australia and New Zealand banks' quarterly earnings missed expectations.

    Meanwhile, Australia's central bank also held rates steady at 1.5 percent for a ninth straight month on Tuesday as it sought to balance the risk of bursting a debt-fuelled property bubble against subdued inflation and wages growth.

    The S&P/ASX 200 index (xjo) closed 6.123 points, or 0.1 percent, down at 5,950.4, after seven straight gaining days.

    Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) fell as much as 3 percent, logging its worst day in nearly six months, after a 23 percent rise in first-half cash profit fell short of analysts' expectations.

    ANZ was the first to report half-year results among the 'Big

    Four' banks which had rallied in previous sessions on optimism ahead of the results.

    "ANZ's miss on consensus was disappointing in the background of that rally," said Ric Spooner, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

    The ASX financial index .AXFJ was down over a percent as the other three of the 'Big Four' banks fell between 0.2 percent and 0.9 percent.

    Investors will now be looking for National Bank of Australia's (NAB) half-year results due on May 4.

    Basic material stocks also fell as BHP Billiton (BHP), which has significant oil interests, fell 0.5 percent, while gold stocks lost momentum as the precious metal hit near three-week lows. [O/R][GOL/]

    Newcrest Mining (NCM) shed 0.4 percent, while Evolution Mining declined 3.5 percent.

    On the other hand, consumer non-cyclicals gained as Woolworth's (WOW) rose as much as 2.5 percent after posting strong sales figures for the quarter.

    New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index (nz50) rose for the seventh straight day, up 0.5 percent, or 40.27 points to 7,422.49.

    Industrials and utility stocks gained with Air New Zealand (AIR) and Port of Tauranga (POT) rising 3 percent, while Meridian Energy (MEL) climbed as much as nearly 2 percent, its biggest intraday percentage gain in 4 weeks.

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