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Australia, NZ: Shares dampened by Fletcher Building, Wall Street

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[BENGALURU] Australia and New Zealand shares fell on Monday in thin trade, on worries over global trade protectionism and as Fletcher Building stocks saw a steep fall after the builder cut its full-year earnings forecast.

Australian shares also tracked Wall Street, which ended flat in its previous session, and the outcome of the G20 summit over the weekend in Germany.

Breaking a decade-long tradition of endorsing open trade, finance ministers and central bankers made only a token reference to trade in their communique on Saturday.

This was seen as a clear defeat for host nation Germany, which fought the new US government's attempts to water down past commitments.

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Market voices on:

"There seems to be an element of risk aversion but nothing really substantial or sinister. Markets have had a good run. There is an element of euphoria being priced in," said Chris Weston, an institutional dealer at IG Markets.

"There are contrary signals suggesting that we might see a bit more downside in the short term with the G20 over the weekend. There is some fragmentation about their views."

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 1.2 per cent, or 85.76 points to 7,072.38, as its biggest construction and building supplies company Fletcher Building lost as much as 13.2 per cent, logging its worst day since October 2011.

The company cut its full-year operating earnings guidance by about 13 per cent to NZ$610 million - NZ$650 million (S$601 million - S$640 million).

The Australian shares of Fletcher fell as much as 12.5 per cent in their fifth straight session.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.32 per cent or 18.346 points at 5,780.3 at 0120 GMT with losses being broad based.

Three of the 'Big Four' banks in Australia fell between 0.2 per cent and 0.5 per cent. Shares of National Australia Bank , however, gained 0.6 per cent.

The materials sector lost 0.5 per cent. Miner Rio Tinto shed 0.7 per cent. Chinese steel and iron ore futures had dropped on Friday.

The gold index fell 1.5 per cent as Newcrest Mining fell 0.8 per cent while St Barbara and Evolution Mining declined 3.6 per cent and 2.9 per cent, respectively.

Among energy stocks, Woodside Petroleum fell 0.9 per cent snapping two days of gains, while Santos Ltd shed nearly 2 per cent.

REUTERS

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