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Australia ends lower on ECB worries; NZ limps

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell on Wednesday, with mining stocks hurt by declines in commodity prices.

Investor confidence also was bruised by a report that the European Central Bank was withdrawing its bond buying programme, though an ECB media officer denied there was any such plan under discussion.

The S&P/ASX 200 index skidded 31.1 points or 0.57 per cent to 5,452.9 at the close of trade.

Global markets were also subdued on concerns of an interest rate hike by the US Federal Reserve in December, with investors taking to the sidelines, awaiting further cues.

The materials sector underperformed other sectors in the region, with Newcrest Mining slipping to four month lows, tracking a 3 per cent slump in gold prices.

The gold index fell as much as 7.5 per cent to a three-month low.

Syrah Resources was the biggest percentage loser on the benchmark, shedding 26 per cent on what was its worst trading day in more than five years.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index lost 1.1 per cent or 81.3 points to finish the session at 7,271.16, battered by losses in industrial and utility shares.

Poultry farmer Tegel Group Holdings fell 6.3 per cent to post its worst intraday performance ever, while infrastructure company Infratil Ltd plunged to a three-month low.

Infratil on Wednesday announced that it would invest around US$100 million in US renewable energy firm Longroad Energy Holdings.