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Australia: Shares decline for 4th straight session


[SYDNEY] Australian shares finished lower on Wednesday, extending their decline to four straight sessions as sliding oil and metal prices weighed on commodity stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 0.6 per cent or 34.546 points to 5,934.2, marking broad-based losses. The benchmark dropped 0.8 per cent on Tuesday.

Material and financial stocks were the biggest burdens on the index with energy stocks also registering losses.

The Australian energy index shed 1.7 per cent as global oil prices extended their fall from Tuesday after the International Energy Agency slashed its demand growth forecast for this year and the next.

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Major miner BHP Billiton Ltd was the top drag on the index, shedding 2.2 per cent while rival and Rio Tinto lost 2.7 per cent.

Shanghai nickel and zinc slid alongside steel on Wednesday, echoing weak industrial data from China.

Westpac Banking Corp was the second biggest drag on the benchmark, falling 0.8 per cent to its lowest in one month after the New Zealand central bank ordered its local unit to boost capital levels after failing to meet capital adequacy requirements.

The financial index lost 0.4 per cent with Westpac the biggest drag.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.1 per cent or 8.06 points to 7999.94.

Telecom and utilities stocks were the biggest losers on the main index.

Telco Spark New Zealand was the biggest weight on the index, having ended 1.9 per cent down.

Westpac's New Zealand listed shares fell 1.4 per cent to their lowest in over a month.