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Australia shares dragged by CSL losses, NZ gains

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell on Wednesday, erasing early gains as heavyweight drugmaker CSL dragged the index after posting a disappointing first-half profit rise.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3 per cent or 15.5 points to 6,063.6 at the close of trade. The benchmark had risen 0.3 per cent on Tuesday.

CSL Ltd, the fifth largest stock in the country, dropped 3.9 per cent as investors grew wary of slowing growth in the company and concerns of regulatory delays in China after the company logged a 10 per cent rise in its interim profit.

"That (10 per cent rise) is a low growth rate for CSL, they usually have growth in the 15-25 per cent region. So coming in at those levels, there was some disappointment," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

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The sharp fall in share prices reflect the high investor expectations for a company which has consistently outperformed the benchmark and seen its shares surge by a third in a year.

Shares of top miners BHP Group Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd slid 0.6 per cent and 1 per cent, respectively.

The drop in miners was underpinned by a sharp fall in iron ore futures as investors sought clarity on the magnitude of supply disruption following Vale SA's dam closures.

Meanwhile, top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia lost near 3 per cent as traded ex-dividend, putting pressure on the benchmark.

Elsewhere, mirroring their US peers, local tech stocks advanced 2 per cent to a near five month closing high.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 0.6 per cent or 52.61 points to finish the session at 9,333.38.

New Zealand listed shares of A2 Milk Company Ltd rose near one per cent, while Meridian Energy Ltd advanced 0.5 per cent.

The country's central bank held the official cash rate at a record low of 1.75 per cent and said that policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period as risks to economic growth increased.

REUTERS