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Australia: Shares end lower after Fed hints at more hikes; NZ down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended lower on Thursday, with energy and metal stocks taking a hit from the US dollar which surged when the US Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter point and hinted at a faster pace of increases in 2017.

The fed funds target was to raised to a range of between 0.50 per cent and 0.75 per cent, as widely expected. But the prospect of three rate hikes next year, versus the two anticipated earlier spooked investors.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said some policymakers had begun shifting their views about fiscal policy, while adding Mr Trump's election had put the central bank under a "cloud of uncertainty".

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.8 per cent,or 46.02 points lower at 5,538.60.

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Australian gold stocks saw their worst day in nearly eight months after the strong dollar pulled global gold prices to their lowest in more than 10 months.

Newcrest Mining fell 5.2 per cent and Regis Resources was down 8 per cent.

Declines in oil prices drove energy stocks down, with Woodside Petroleum and Santos dropping 2.8 per cent and 10.7 per cent, respectively.

The metals index posted a fall of 2.3 per cent, with mining giant BHP Billiton and Newcrest Mining falling 1.8 to 5.2 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index finished 0.7 per cent or 49.24 points down at 6,748.62.

Consumer and utilities stocks led the losses, with Sky Network Television falling 4.2 per cent, while Contact Energy lost 1.7 per cent.

REUTERS

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