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Australia shares end flat as losses in miners offset gains in financials

* Financial stocks sole gainers on ASX

* Westpac climbs 5% on upbeat interim results

* NZ shares up 0.3%, gain for fourth day (Updates to close)

May 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended flat on Monday with losses in miners and tech stocks offsetting gains in financials amid muted trading in broader Asian markets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.04% to 7028.80 at the close of trade, with the financials sector being the sole gainer as Westpac Banking Corp kicked off the earnings season for lenders on a strong note.

Asian share markets started off slow on Monday, as holidays in China and Japan thinned volumes while investors awaited data this week which should show the U.S. leading a global economic recovery.

Financial sector rose 1.4%, with Westpac jumping 5% after its first-half cash earnings more than tripled from last year’s plunge, helped by money it had previously set aside to cover potential COVID-19 losses.

“On a normal day, one could have thought Westpac’s upbeat earnings would have added more positive momentum but some of the miners have come-off a bit, with markets struggling for any real direction”, said Nick Twidale, chief executive officer of APAC for FP Markets.

“For the rest of the week, we can expect other banks coming off nicely with upbeat results with Westpac’s earnings as good indication,” Nick added.

Metals and mining index fell 1% due to subdued iron ore and copper prices, with sector heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto shedding 1.4% and 0.9% respectively.

Technology stocks dragged 1.9%, taking cues from U.S. peers, with Nuix Ltd as the biggest loser on the subindex, down 4.1%. Buy-now-pay-later heavyweight Afterpay slipped 3.1%.

Data showed Australian home prices posted another solid increase in April while job advertisements climbed for an 11th straight month, suggesting a strong demand for labour.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3%, to finish at 12768.84, gaining for a fourth consecutive session. The benchmark gained 0.1% in the previous session. (Reporting by Vasudha Kaukuntla in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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