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Aussie shares end at more than 1-year low after Wall St selloff; NZ down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares sank across the board on Thursday to end at a more than one-year low, with metals and mining leading the descent after Wall Street's biggest daily decline since 2011 set the bearish tone.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell for a fifth straight session, closing 2.8 per cent down at 5664.1. The benchmark was marginally lower on Wednesday.

The Australian metals and mining index fell 3.5 per cent to a more than one-month closing low.

The world's biggest miner BHP declined 4 per cent to a more than six-month low, while peer Rio Tinto fell 4.5 per cent.

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Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals slumped 5.7 per cent after it said quarterly iron ore shipments fell 8.6 per cent from a year earlier, on reduced demand from China.

Financial shares closed 3 per cent lower. Among the "Big Four" banks, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group led losses, while the largest lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia declined 1.8 per cent.

The country's largest wealth manager AMP Ltd plunged nearly 25 per cent and was the biggest decliner on the Australian benchmark after it announced the sale of its life insurance arm at a discount.

The sector has been hit hard this year by revelations of widespread misconduct following an inquiry.

Extending significant losses into a fourth session, the energy sector closed at a six month low.

Oil and gas producers Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd fell 2 per cent and 1.6 per cent, respectively.

Bucking the trend, gold shares advanced as safe haven bids for the yellow metal saw prices climb towards a more than three-month peak.

Newcrest Mining extended gains and rose 0.7 per cent, while Evolution Mining advanced 0.6 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.9 per cent or 74.01 points to close at 8568.23.

A2 Milk fell 1.9 per cent and medical device maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp lost 1.6 per cent.

REUTERS