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Australia, NZ: Shares end tad lower weighed down by materials

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares edged lower on Wednesday as material stocks slumped in line with iron ore and steel prices ahead an Opec meeting aimed at striking a deal to cut oil output in a bid to boost crude prices that have halved since 2014.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.3 per cent, or 17 points lower,at 5,440.5.

Mining giants BHP Billiton Ltd, Rio Tinto Ltd and Fortescue Metals Group recorded their biggest intra-day percentage loss in three weeks, tumbling 4.1 per cent, 4.4 per cent and 5.3 per cent respectively.

The metals and mining index suffered its biggest intra-day percentage loss in two months, losing 3.3 per cent as China steel futures looked set for a record fall on liquidity worries.

Energy stocks also took a beating with index heavyweights Woodside Petroleum Ltd and Oil Search Ltd down more than two per cent.

Oil prices have been volatile in the run up to the Opec meeting, bouncing back on Wednesday, after a nearly four per cent slump in the previous session.

Australia is targeting the oil and gas industry for a tax review ahead of next year's budget, as it looks to boost revenues and collect more from multinational giants.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index lost 0.07 per cent, or 4.8 points, to finish the session at 6,896.95.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand said more restrictions on mortgage lending might be required based on fears of a debt-fuelled property bubble.

Fletcher Building Ltd and Goodman Property Trust were among the biggest losers on the benchmark, ending down 4.8 per cent and two percent respectively.

REUTERS