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Australia shares fall, wary before Trump inauguration; NZ edge down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell on Friday, pressured by weakness on Wall Street as investors cut back on exposure to riskier assets before US President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration, with financials and resources sectors leading losses in Sydney.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.6 per cent, or 35.284 points, to 5,656.9 by 0124 GMT. The benchmark is on track to fall 1.1 per cent on the week.

"Markets are down on profit-taking and we have a negative lead from Wall Street... financials and resources have had a really strong run," said Bill Keenan, general manager of direct equities research at Lonsec.

"Markets are also waiting to see what comes out of Donald Trump's inaugural address."

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The three major US stock indexes closed lower as investors backed off from risky assets ahead of Mr Trump's inauguration on Friday, with financials weighing most on the S&P 500.

Mr Trump's promises of tax cuts, bank deregulation and infrastructure spending had boosted US markets after his November victory, especially financials, and this trickled down into the Australian markets.

The Australian benchmark has gained 10.4 per cent since Nov 9 as of Thursday's close, while financials rose 14.5 per cent and miners added 11.8 per cent.

Financials fell for a fourth straight session, down as much as 1.4 per cent to its lowest in five weeks. The "Big Four" banks were at more than one-month low levels and were the main drags on the benchmark index.

Miners dropped as much as 1.3 per cent, their biggest intraday decline in four weeks, with base metals and iron ore prices falling.

BHP Billiton Ltd slipped over one per cent, after it said on Thursday that its Samarco joint venture with Vale SA agreed with Brazilian prosecutors on a June 30 deadline to settle billions of dollars in compensation claims stemming from an iron ore mine disaster in 2015.

Rio Tinto Ltd fell about 1.5 per cent.

In contrast, Sydney Airport Holdings Ltd rose about 3 per cent after it reported just over 7 per cent rise in international passengers in December. Biotech giant CSL Ltd extended its rally, up 3 per cent to an over five-month highs after upgrading its annual profit forecast on Thursday.

China's fourth-quarter GDP and December industrial production figures are expected later in the day. China is Australia's top trading partner, led by sizable earnings from resources exports.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index eased 0.1 per cent or 9.22 points, to 7,053.14 at 0124 GMT, with losses led by financials and industrials.

NZ-listed stock of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd was the worst performer, while Auckland International Airport Ltd weighed most on the index.

REUTERS

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