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Australia: Shares close lower on May rate cut doubts


[SYDNEY] Australian shares slipped on Wednesday with the financial sector under pressure after inflation data failed to add to the case for an interest rate cut next month.

The S&P/ASX 200 index shed 0.6 per cent, or 34.8 points, to 5,837.5. The big four banks all ended in the red, led by a 1.3 per cent fall in Westpac.

The closely watched report showed consumer prices rose at the slowest pace in almost three years last quarter, as expected. Yet core inflation was a shade above forecasts.

Analysts said the outcome gave the Reserve Bank of Australia room to ease, but did not increase pressure on the central bank to take imminent action.

New Zealand's share market closed at its lowest in nearly two months. The benchmark NZX 50 index slid 0.4 per cent, or 23.9 points, to 5,793.6.


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