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Australia: Shares snap 4-day winning streak

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares snapped a four-day winning streak on Thursday, hurt by weaker commodity prices and an overnight fall on Wall Street after the US Federal Reserve hiked interest rates.

"The rate hike was completely expected. The interesting thing, though, were the other figures out last night, the CPI numbers, which were very ordinary," said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stock broking at Argonaut.

"But Janet Yellen then sort of confused the market by saying it is the labour market that she has got her eyes on, and the labour market in the United States is particularly strong at the moment." Australia's main benchmark index fell 1.2 per cent, or 70.70 points, to 5,763.20. It had ended at near-one month highs on Wednesday.

Energy and basic materials shares were among the worst performers as commodity and oil prices remained stressed.

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BHP and Rio Tinto lost about 3 per cent and 3.7 per cent, respectively.

Fortescue Metals, world's no 4 iron ore miner, was 3.3 per cent lower.

Oil and gas majors Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search were off 1.7 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively.

Banks were hit by profit booking, with the four biggest lenders falling 2.1 per cent to about 3 per cent, the biggest contributors to overall losses.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended down 0.4 per cent, or 32.36 points, at 7,516.35.

Energy stocks Meridian Energy and Z Energy were among the biggest gainers, adding about 1.4 per cent each.

REUTERS

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