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Australia, NZ: Australia shares dip after jobs data, NZ weak

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares slipped 0.6 per cent on Thursday, for a second consecutive session, led by losses in energy and mining stocks, while domestic jobs data showed lower-than-expected growth in employment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index slid 33.66 points to 5,322.50 by 0219 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.7 per cent on Wednesday.

Miners were the biggest losers with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto tumbling 4.9 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively. Gold miners such as Newcrest and Evolution slumped more than 7 per cent.

Energy shares were in the red too with Origin and Santos losing more than 4 per cent each.

"(The) gold sector is starting to sell off its recent highs as the gold price in US dollar terms has done virtually nothing over the last 6 weeks," said Mark Lennox, chief executive and client advisor at HC Securities.

"Clients are taking the view that (the) gold price is struggling to find momentum despite the momentum in domestically listed gold plays and as such are removing risk from their portfolios."

On the positive side, electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi jumped more than 4 per cent after it said it was in early talks for a possible buyout of privately-held rival The Good Guys.

Building materials supplier James Hardie rose over 6 per cent on share buyback and positive earnings outlook.

The big banks were mixed with Commonwealth Bank up 0.2 per cent, ANZ Banking rising 0.9 per cent while National Australia Bank trading 0.2 per cent lower.

Wall Street closed flat on Wednesday after a volatile session as the minutes from the Federal Reserve's April meeting signalled a potential interest rate increase in the near term.

For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.46 per cent or 31.85 points to 6,950.78 on Thursday, retracing the gains to record levels made the previous session.

Power companies led losses with Meridian Energy losing 2.51 per cent, Genesis Energy down 1.89 per cent, and Mighty River Power MRP.NZ falling 1.67 per cent.

Infrastructure company Infratil lost 1.04 per cent after announcing it had acquired a stake in Canberra Data Centres.

Auckland Airport lost 1.73 per cent while health software company Orion Health Group fell 1.24 per cent.

Heartland Bank continued to gain after announcing on Wednesday that its nine-month net profit had risen 10 per cent.

REUTERS