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Australia shares edge lower, weighed by Fed, miners; NZ up


[BENGALURU] Australian shares eased on Friday, tracking global declines after the US Federal Reserve affirmed its intention to continue raising rates and as softer metals prices and new state regulations weighed on mining stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.11 per cent, or 6.4 points, to 5,921.8 at the close of trade but rose 1.24 per cent over the week, its second straight week of gains. The benchmark closed 0.53 per cent higher on Thursday.

The metals and mining stocks, among the biggest drags on the headline index, closed 0.4 per cent lower. Global miner BHP and rival Rio Tinto falling 0.1 per cent and 0.4 per cent, respectively.

Both miners have operations in the state of Queensland, which is set to unveil resource regulations next week requiring miners to pay into an "insurance fund" for the remediation of old mines.

Also weighing on miners were benchmark London copper prices , which slipped on Friday with the market on track for its sharpest weekly drop since mid-August

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Energy stocks fell 1.3 per cent, with sector heavyweight Woodside Petroleum Ltd losing 1.3 per cent and Santos Ltd falling 1.1 per cent.

Oil prices weakened as rising supply and concerns of an economic slowdown pressured prices, with U.S. crude down 20 per cent since early October as of Friday.

Meanwhile, financial stocks edged slightly higher with Commonwealth Bank of Australia gaining 0.5 per cent while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd gained 0.3 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.40 per cent or 35.39 points to finish the session at 8,931.4.

Dairy firm Synlait Milk Ltd closed 1.8 per cent higher.


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