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[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell 0.5 per cent on Tuesday as mining and energy firms were pressured by worries about slowing growth in China, but demand for healthcare and telecom stocks limited the market's downside.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.4 per cent, or 20.81 points, to 5,248.9 by 0024 GMT. The benchmark barely moved on Monday but stayed near a 7-week high hit last week.
The index has risen 4.6 per cent in October so far, on track for its best monthly performance since February although it is down more than 12 per cent from a high of nearly 6,000-points hit earlier this year.
Worries about a slowdown in China, Australia's No 1 trading partner and uncertainty over the timing of a rate hike by the US Federal Reserve have weighed on the index for much of the year. "The ASX200 index is presently stuck between two key levels of 5,000 and 5,500," said Stuart McPhee, senior technical analyst at OANDA Australia and Asia Pacific. "It has run into some resistance at 5,300 and there is likely to be more resistance above should the index be able to rally higher back," McPhee added.
Gold miner Newcrest Mining was among the top losers on the index on Tuesday, down 5.5 per cent. Mining contractor Worley Parsons, junior miner Arrium and Oz Minerals were down 4-4.9 per cent.
Major miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto fell 2.5 per cent and 1.8 per cent respectively.
The big banks including National Australia Bank and ANZ Banking Group were off 0.2-1.3 per cent.
Energy firms Santos and Woodside Petroleum fell 4.2 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively.
Telecoms giant Telstra rose 2 per cent while healthcare shares CSL, Resmed and Ansell were up 0.6-1.5 per cent.
For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand stocks rose for an eighth session, reaching fresh two-month highs. The NZX 50 index was up 0.4 per cent, or 23.5 per cent, at 5,858.4, having amassed gains of over 4 per cent since Oct 9 when the rally began.
The upbeat performance came as global demand for risk assets appeared to have improved amid expectations that the Federal Reserve might not hike interest rates this year.
Topping the leader board on Tuesday was Diligent Corp , which announced it had bought BroadLink from Thomson Reuters. Diligent shares climbed as much as 4.4 per cent to its highest in over seven months.
Insurance company Tower, fuel distributor Z Energy and Kiwi Property Group were all up just over 1.0 per cent each.