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Australia shares end lower on falling materials, energy; NZ down
[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended the last session of the week lower, as materials and energy stocks fell because concerns about rising inventories and a possible glut.
Globally, geopolitical tensions and President Donald Trump's comment that the dollar "was getting too strong," and expressed preference for low interest rates made investors jittery and weakened the greenback.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.8 per cent, or 45.358 points, to 5,888.6 at the close of trade. On the week, the index gained 0.4 per cent.
Miners in the region fell on overnight losses in Chinese steel and iron ore futures which fell to their lowest prices in months as market sentiment turned bearish on the demand outlook.
Iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was down 0.6 per cent at 0628 GMT.
BHP Billiton lost 4 per cent in its third straight losing day, while shares in Fortescue Metals declined 6.8 per cent in its sixth straight falling day, hitting its lowest in five months.
Fortescue Metals said it sees iron ore prices continuing to fall to between US$60 and US$65 a tonne as imports to China continue to rise, even after it reported a 6 per cent fall in third-quarter shipments on Thursday.
Shares of the miner were down 6.8 per cent, hitting their lowest in more than 5 months.
Energy stocks lost as crude oil futures slid for a second session on Thursday, on rising US production stoking worries about global oversupply.
Woodside Petroleum lost 2.1 per cent, its steepest intraday loss in more than two months.
Whitehaven Coal ended the session 6.9 per cent lower after reporting a 11 per cent decline in quarterly coal sales.
Regionally, data showing that employment in March rose by 60,900 in Australia, beating expectations, also failed to cheer the market.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.3 per cent, or 21.74 points, lower at 7,229.8, adding to the 0.2 per cent weekly loss.
Utility companies Meridian Energy and Contact Energy lost over 1 per cent, while poultry products distributor Tegel Group led the losses, shedding 2.5 per cent.
The Australia and New Zealand markets will be closed on April 14 for Good Friday.