Australia Stocks Pare Losses to End Flat

By Robb M. Stewart Features Dow Jones Newswires

MELBOURNE, Australia--Australian shares pared early losses Wednesday to end little changed after economic growth came in better than expected.

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A recovery among major banks and a boost in telecommunications stocks helped to offset broad weakness elsewhere.

The S&P/ASX 200 finished 0.3 points lower at 5667.20 after falling by as much as 0.4% in early trading. That followed a 1.5% drop Tuesday.

Data from the statistics agency showed Australia's gross domestic product expanded 0.3% in the three months through March from the previous quarter and rose 1.7% on year. Treasurer Scott Morrison said the country should be able to avoid a technical recession, despite some concerns about the weak pace of growth.

Australia & New Zealand Banking led the major lenders higher, rising 0.7%. Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking were each up 0.5% and National Australia Bank rose 0.3%. The four banks fell an average 1.5% Tuesday, and have been under pressure in recent weeks amid worries about potential changes to regulatory capital requirements and a fresh tax on liabilities.

Among telecommunications stocks, Vocus Communications rallied 22% after it said it had received a preliminary takeover offer from private-equity firm KKR & Co.

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Conglomerate Wesfarmers fell 2.9% as sentiment soured following comments from investor briefings about competition.

Diversified miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto fell 0.6% and rose 0.3%, respectively, and iron-ore producer Fortescue Metals Group dropped 0.2%.

Write to Robb M. Stewart at robb.stewart@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 07, 2017 03:42 ET (07:42 GMT)