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Australia: Shares hit 3-week low, New Zealand shares ease

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[MELBOURNE] Australian shares fell to more than three week lows on Thursday, as market sentiment soured after weak Chinese economic data and on expectations that Australia may delay widely expected interest rate cuts.

The S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 0.8 per cent, or 44.3 points, to 5,278.9 at the close of trade. At one point, the index hit 5,270.90 - its weakest since May 9. The benchmark fell 1 per cent on Wednesday.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index eased by 0.3 per cent or 19.3 points to finish the session at 7,003.12.