Australia shares edge up on support from materials; NZ gain

(Updates to close)

June 26 (Reuters) – Australian shares eked out modest gains
on Monday as strength in consumer staples and materials managed
to keep the benchmark index in the black despite losses in the
real estate sector.

The S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 0.1 percent, or 4.33
points, to end the session at 5,720.20. The benchmark closed 0.2
percent higher on Friday.

Metcash Ltd rose 9.1 percent and helped lift the
consumer staples sector, after it reported a 9.3 percent rise in
underlying annual profit and announced plans to resume dividend

Elsewhere, miners saw some gains on the back of
improved commodity prices over the weekend.

Steel manufacturer BlueScope Steel Ltd gained 3.2
percent while Rio Tinto Ltd ended 1.3 percent higher.

Financial stocks ended flat amid lingering concerns over
surprise taxes, the latest being a fresh A$370 million ($280
million) tax announced by the state of South Australia, just one
month after being slapped with a A$6.2 billion tax by the
federal government.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National
Australia Bank warned that the surprise taxes are
scaring away potential foreign investors by creating a less
stable business environment.

Among the biggest losers were real estate and healthcare
stocks. Retirement and nursing home operator Aveo Group
dropped 11.2 percent to its lowest close in over 20 months while
CSL Ltd shed 0.4 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.6
percent, or 41.86 points, higher to the session at 7,595.50.

Fuel supplier Z Energy Ltd and Spark New Zealand
Ltd advanced 2.4 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively,
and were the biggest gainers on the index.

Entertainment company SKY Network Television Ltd
was the biggest drag on the index after it ended down 2.1
percent to its lowest close in over eight years.

The losses came after the pay television provider terminated
a sales agreement to buy Vodafone’s local unit.

(Reporting by Sindhu Chandrasekaran in Bengaluru; Editing by
Shri Navaratnam)