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Australia shares fall as Trump's travel ban spooks markets; NZ down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares lost ground for the second session on Tuesday, extending a global selloff in equity markets after US President Donald Trump's tough immigration policy sapped investor confidence.

Mr Trump's executive order on Friday put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travellers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries, sparking a backlash in the United States and abroad.

On Monday, the US dollar fell more than one per cent against the yen, while major US stock indexes posted their largest declines so far in 2017.

It was the biggest daily percentage drop for the Dow since October, while the S&P and Nasdaq dropped the most since late December.

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While global stocks and the US dollar rose in the weeks after Mr Trump's election win in November, on bets fiscally expansionary policies will set US growth on a higher gear, lately markets have been spooked by the new administration's protectionism and tough stance on immigration.

"Late last year and early this year, everyone was excited about the change President Trump might bring," said Christopher Conway, head of research and trading at Australian Stock Report.

"Now the reality of what Trump might mean for people, communities, areas of finance, commerce, international trade is creating volatility."

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.7 per cent, or 41.92 points to 5,619.60 by 0057 GMT, hurt by big losses in energy, material and financial stocks.

The energy index dropped 2 per cent to its lowest in four weeks, with Woodside Petroleum falling 1.7 per cent and Oil Search off 1.6 per cent.

Australia's top energy retailer, Origin Energy fell 3 per cent, even after reporting a 27 per cent rise in gas revenue in the December quarter.

Global miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto fell 1.6 and 2.5 per cent, respectively.

Shares of rival Fortescue Metals Group bucked the trend, rising as much as 3.7 per cent to their highest in seven weeks, after the company said it remains on track for another bumper year.

Financial stocks fell 0.7 per cent, with the "big four" banks falling 0.7 per cent to 1.2 per cent.

Safe haven gold stocks gained on the back of weak US dollar, supported by political uncertainty in US and Europe.

Newcrest Mining rose 1.4 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index declined 0.7 per cent or 48.58 points to 7,036.98, dragged down by consumer and material stocks.

Fletcher Building Ltd lost 0.9 per cent, while Sky Network Television Ltd was down 2.1 per cent.

REUTERS

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