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Australia shares extend losses hurt by materials, NZ up
[BENGALURU] Australian shares slipped to a more than four-week low on Wednesday, extending its second straight session of losses as material stocks slumped on weak base metal prices.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.5 per cent, or 32.8 points, to 6,015.8 at the close of trade.
Australia's metals and mining index slid as much as 2.4 per cent, posting its biggest fall in over four months.
Mining giant BHP Billiton fell 2.9 per cent, posting its worst day in nearly seven months, while Rio Tinto slipped 3.5 per cent.
Chinese iron ore future fell for a fifth day running on Wednesday, while Shanghai aluminium prices extended declines into a second day.
The country's financial sector, which constitutes about 40 per cent of the Aussie index, was down 0.3 per cent, with the 'Big Four' banks slipping in the range of 0.3 per cent to 0.6 per cent.
Meanwhile, Sirtex Medical was the top gainer on the benchmark, jumping 13.9 per cent to hit a more than nine-month high after forecasting strong half yearly results.
Software developer Wisetech Global rose 3.6 per cent to a one-week high, while real estate stock Shopping Centres Australasia Property Group RE gained 1.4 per cent.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index extended gains in its second straight session, rising 0.6 per cent, or 47.13 points, to close at 8,297.67.
Consumer staples were the biggest gainers on the index with Synlait Milk adding 3.7 per cent and a2 Milk Company jumping over 3 percent.
Global dairy prices climbed 4.9 per cent in the second auction of the year as buyers anticipate supply issues because of unusually dry weather in New Zealand, the world's largest milk exporter.