Australia shares end flat as tech, healthcare losses offset commodity gains (June 20)

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CORRECTED-Australia shares end flat as tech, healthcare losses offset commodity gains (June 20)

Corrects and changes sequence of paragraph 13 in June 20 report to say New Zealand growth, not Australia growth, and RBNZ forecast, not RBA forecast

Shares close flat amid inflation worries

Namoi Cotton hit lowest since May 1

NZ stocks up after GDP meets expectations

By Prerna Bedi

June 20 (Reuters)Australian shares ended flat on Thursday as losses in the technology and healthcare stocks countered gains in the commodity stocks, while expectations of an early rate cut were dampened by the local central bank’s warning on sticky inflation.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO was largely unchanged at 7,769.4 points at the close of trade. The benchmark fell 0.1% on Wednesday.

The Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday kept interest rates unchanged at a 12-year high as inflation remained above its target band, prompting concerns that a rate hike might be on the cards if inflationary pressures persist.

“The path ahead for the stock markets appears increasingly blurred as traders await fresh signals from both the economic and monetary fronts,” Hebe Chen, a market analyst at IG said.

Global investors await the Bank of England’s rate decision. The central bank is expected to leave rates unchanged.

Last week, the U.S. Federal Reserve had signalled a single rate cut for this year.

In Australia, healthcare firms .AXHJ snapped five consecutive sessions of gains to close 1% lower, leading the losses in the benchmark.

Technology stocks .AXIJ fell 0.5%, with accounting software provider Xero XRO.AX easing 0.2%.

On the other hand, gold stocks .AXGD led gains among resources, rising about 0.4%, after bullion prices hit a two-week high. GOL/

Heavyweight miners .AXMM ticked 0.1% higher, while energy stocks .AXEJ were largely unmoved.

Namoi Cotton NAM.AX dropped as much as 7.9% to its lowest since May 1, after the regulator raised competition concerns in cotton ginning services after it acquires Singapore’s Olam Agri IPO-OLAA.SI.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 gained 0.9% to finish the session at 11,771.81 points.

Data showed the country’s first-quarter gross domestic product grew in line with the RBNZ’s(Reserve Bank of New Zealand) forecast, doing little to change the rates outlook.

Reporting by Prerna Bedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Mrigank Dhaniwala

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