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Australia shares dip after Fed minutes; NZ gains

39913266 - 19_09_2016 - AUSTRALIA ASX.jpg
Australian shares pulled back on Thursday after an uninspiring session on Wall Street overnight and as minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting suggested policymakers were on track to raise interest rates by December.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares pulled back on Thursday after an uninspiring session on Wall Street overnight and as minutes from the last Federal Reserve meeting suggested policymakers were on track to raise interest rates by December.

The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 23.02 points, or 0.4 per cent to 5451.6 by 0008 GMT.

"Several members judged that it would be appropriate to increase the target range for the federal funds rate relatively soon if economic developments unfolded about as ... expected," the Fed said in the minutes.

While minutes of the Sept 20-21 meeting didn't shake market expectations for the next Fed rate hike to occur in December, they also showed the depth of division over timing.

"The minutes were sort of mixed, as there was still a majority that did not want a raise at that time and post that meeting result in September the payrolls have come in a lot more lower than expected," said Will Keenan, General Manager of Direct Equities Research at Lonsec.

Market sentiment was also affected by declines in oil prices on Wednesday after Opec reported its September oil output hit eight-year highs, offsetting optimism over the group's pledge to bring a global crude glut under control.

Oil Search Ltd fell 1.5 per cent while Origin Energy was down 1.4 per cent, dragging the energy index down.

Global miners BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd lost 1.4 per cent and 1.8 per cent, respectively.

Rare earths miner Iluka Resources Ltd fell as much as 2.5 per cent, touching a three-week low, after reporting a decline in September-quarter mineral sands production.

Healthcare stocks were also pressured. Sonic Healthcare shed one per cent while blood-products maker CSL Ltd slipped as much as 1.6 per cent, its biggest intra-day percentage fall in a month.

Bucking the trend, gold stocks climbed one per cent after the yellow metal held modest gains on Wednesday. Gold miner Evolution Mining was among the top gainers on the index, up 2.6 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ticked up 0.3 per cent, or 23.99 points, to 7131.45, supported by materials and telecom stocks, which accounted for more than half of the gains.

Fletcher Building was the top gainer on the benchmark, rising as much as 3.9 per cent - its biggest single day percentage gain in eight weeks. Spark New Zealand rose one per cent.

REUTERS