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Australia, NZ: Shares cautious ahead of final Trump, Clinton showdown
[BENGALURU] Australian shares treaded water on Thursday as investors awaited the third US presidential debate, in which Democrat Hillary Clinton will clash with rival Donald Trump for the last time before the November election.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.1 per cent or 6.74 points to 5442.1 by 0054 GMT.
The debate at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada, gives Mr Trump perhaps his best remaining chance to sway the dwindling number of Americans who are still undecided about which way to vote in the Nov 8 polls.
"The markets are concerned about potential for economic vandalism if Trump is elected, so if there is a perception that he is closing the gap with Clinton, then markets could sell down," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist with CMC Markets.
Gains in energy, industrials and materials were offset by declines in financials.
Energy stocks climbed over one per cent as oil prices rose with US crude settling at its highest in 15 months after the government reported a surprisingly large drop in inventories for the sixth week out of seven.
Woodside Petroleum, Australia's largest independent oil and gas producer, rose as much as 2.1 per cent after reporting a 14 per cent rise in third-quarter production from the previous quarter, beating analysts' forecasts.
Mining giant BHP Billition rose more than a per cent, while Rio Tinto was up 0.4 per cent. Rio Tinto cut its 2016 guidance for iron ore shipments by as much as 5 million tonnes.
Newcrest Mining climbed as much as 2.7 per cent, as gold prices breached their 200-day moving average amid uncertainty over the timing of a US interest rate increase.
At the other end, South32 Ltd withered over one per cent. Casino operator Crown Resorts fell 3 per cent after company set out its plan to spin off some of its Australian hotels and retail property in an initial public offering.
Advancing volumes outnumbered declining ones by a more than 1.5:1 ratio on the Australian exchange.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was down 0.1 per cent or 9.76 points at 6966.78.
Gains in materials and telecom stocks were negated by falls in the healthcare, utilities sectors.
Fletcher Building rose as much as 1.1 per cent before shedding some of the gains while Chorus Ltd was up one per cent.