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Australia: Shares turn lower, dragged by falling commodity prices


[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell 0.62 per cent on Tuesday ending a five session winning streak, taking negative cues from Wall Street and lower commodity prices.

Copper, traditionally a bellwether for the global economy, fell 3 per cent to its cheapest in more than six years dragging down the metals sector.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 30.72 points to 5,245.7 by 0132 GMT. The benchmark closed 0.4 per cent higher on Monday.

"There will continue to be some volatility and some weakness in the commodity sector. A strengthening US dollar generally means we will see commodity prices continue to weaken," said Chris Conway, head of research and trading, Australian Stock Report.

"Of course if there are some more ructions out of China that will add fuel to the fire".

Commodities price weakness weighed heavily on the material sector. Fortescue Mining fell 3.7 per cent, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto were down 1.5 and 0.9 per cent respectively.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining, slipped 0.7 per cent hampered by a fall in gold prices as the precious metal languished near its lowest level in nearly six years on Monday.

Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum fell 0.5 per cent.

Among the retails, leading grocer Woolworths lost 0.6 per cent while rival Coles edged up 0.15 per cent.

Surfing apparel retailer Billabong International Ltd plunged to a 2-month lower after announcing the company expects EBITDA in the first four months of 2016 to be about A$2.5m behind the same period this year.

Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd fell as much as 3.3 per cent after brokerage Bell Potter cut its price target.

Wall Street ended lower in quiet trading after healthcare companies Pfizer's plan to buy Allergan Plc drew political criticism.

For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index edged up 0.32 per cent or 19.63 points to 6,097.25 on Tuesday after earlier hitting a record high of 6,101.680.

The biggest gainer was dairy company A2 milk, which rose 13.76 per cent as it continued to gain from investor appetite for infant formula producers.

Shares in Fonterra's fund, which provides investor exposure to the farmer-owned dairy exporter, rose 0.74 per cent ahead of Fonterra's annual meeting on Wednesday.

Orion Health Group rose 2.7 per cent and accounting software company Xero rose 2.1 per cent.

Air New Zealand led losses, dropping 1.43 per cent after it released passenger numbers for October, which showed that passenger numbers and load factors grew at a slower pace than the previous month.