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Australia: Shares edge lower on broad-based losses; NZ flat


[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell slightly on Thursday on broad-based selling, though gains in materials stocks from higher commodity prices capped some of the losses.

Seven of the ASX's 10 sectors registered losses as the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.7 per cent or 4.113 points to 5,982.300 by 0133 GMT. The benchmark climbed 0.4 per cent on Wednesday.

"Index-selling seems to be driving the index lower. The concern is that the market is rejecting the 6,000 level as a whole and so we're seeing some protection strategies being put in place," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

"With the negative impulse we have seen and negative leads we have got from overseas markets, the concern is that if we finish lower today, the technical signal is that the market has failed again at 6,000 and the short-term direction is downward."

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Banks accounted for most of the losses, with the financials index dipping 0.5 per cent.

Heavyweights Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd fell 0.4 per cent and 0.6 per cent, respectively.

Consumer stocks followed closely, with Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd slumping as much as 4.3 per cent to its lowest since Oct 2008 after managing director Alison Watkins said a A$40 million (S$41 million) investment to accelerate growth in Australian beverage sales will take a toll on 2018 earnings.

Meanwhile, Inc has told its Australian sellers to be ready to take orders on Nov 23, according to a retailer, the first time Amazon has given a date for business to open.

"The fears about Amazon have been in the market for sometime now and that could be adding to the negative statement. Though since the news has been flagged so much, it doesn't seem to be having a huge effect on the market," added Mr McCarthy.

Materials made some gains as Chinese steel futures rallied for a third straight session on Wednesday.

BHP rose 1.3 per cent to its highest since Nov 14, on track for third consecutive session of gains, while its peer Rio Tinto gained 1.1 per cent.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.03 per cent or 2.69 points to 8,107.68.

Retail sales volumes rose a seasonally adjusted 0.2 per cent in the three months to end-September as growth eased after sports tourism fuelled gains in the previous quarter.

Medical device maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation fell 1.1 per cent to its lowest since Sept. 20 and was the biggest drag on the index for a third straight day.