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Australia: Shares end lower on Trump impeachment move, NZ inches up

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Australian shares closed lower on Wednesday as investor confidence was dealt a fresh blow after US lawmakers called for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, raising the risk of prolonged political infighting in the United States.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares closed lower on Wednesday as investor confidence was dealt a fresh blow after US lawmakers called for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, raising the risk of prolonged political infighting in the United States.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.6 per cent to 6,710.2 at the close of trade, having finished flat on Tuesday.

Democrats in the US House of Representatives on Tuesday launched the formal impeachment inquiry into Trump, accusing him of seeking foreign help to smear Democratic rival Joe Biden ahead of next year's election. Mr Trump has denied the claims.

Adding to the sour mood, trade worries resurfaced after Mr Trump delivered a stinging rebuke to China's trade practices at the United Nations General Assembly, saying he would not accept a "bad deal" in US-China trade negotiations.

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Leading declines on the local benchmark index, mining stocks fell 1.4 per cent to their lowest level in over a week amid weaker iron ore prices.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed marginally higher at 10,861.44.

Earlier in the day, the New Zealand central bank held the official ash rate at a record-low 1.0 per cent, as expected, but flagged scope for more fiscal and monetary stimulus to support an economy facing intensifying global trade and demand pressures.

Air New Zealand and energy retailer Trustpower Ltd were among the top gainers, rising 2.6 per cent and 3 per cent each. 

REUTERS