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Australia, NZ: Shares slump on Fed, Brexit worries


[SYDNEY] Australian shares dropped 2 per cent on Tuesday to a one-month low while New Zealand fell for a second day tracking declines offshore on worries about U.S. growth and Britain potentially pulling out of the European Union.

The S&P/ASX 200 index slid 114 points, or 2.2 per cent, to 5,198.50 by 0341 GMT, in a sea of red following a long weekend.

Banks, major miners and energy stocks led the market down. The big four banks were all down around 2.7 per cent.

The energy index slumped 4 per cent as concerns about global growth weighed on oil prices. Australia's biggest independent oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum slid 3 per cent to a two-month low of A$26.17.

Miner BHP Billiton fell 2.9 per cent even after a court in Brazil dismissed a civil lawsuit against Samarco, co-owned by BHP Billiton and Brazil's Vale, over a mine disaster last year.

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Blue chips Telstra Corp and blood products maker CSL Ltd also dropped more than 2 per cent.

Only 13 stocks were trading higher of which more than half were gold producers as the price of gold rose to its highest in a month as investors sought a safe haven.

Biotech company Mesoblast was the biggest loser after its partner Teva Pharmaceutical Industries gave up rights to Mesoblast's promising heart failure treatment, denting funding at a crucial point in its clinical trials.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 66.57 points, or nearly 1 per cent, to 6,857.70.

Accounting software company Xero led losses, sliding 4.6 per cent. Air New Zealand fell 3.5 per cent, while A2 Milk lost 2.5 per cent, giving up gains it made on Monday.

Nuplex Industries edged up 0.19 per cent after a decision on whether the resin company could be acquired by Allnex edged closer with a New Zealand court on Monday ordering a shareholders' meeting.


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