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Australia shares end week lower, hurt by weak China data; NZ down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares skidded on Friday as data in China showed the economy of the Pacific nation's biggest trading partner losing further momentum, underlining the risks to global growth from the Sino-US trade dispute.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.1 per cent to close at 5,602. The benchmark declined 1.4 per cent this week, its biggest weekly drop since mid-November, after the index hit a two-year low earlier on Monday.

The gloomy data from China triggered a broad risk-off mode in regional markets, with the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan tumbling 1.4 per cent.

China reported sharply weak November retail sales and industrial output growth numbers as demand softened further, heaping pressure on Beijing to defuse its trade dispute with the United States.

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China is Australia's biggest trading partner, with its resource-rich economy counting on the Asian giant for a sizable portion of export income and generating jobs at home.

Global miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto, which are heavily exposed to China, fell as much as 1.4 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively. These losses saw the metal and mining sector turning down as copper prices headed south on China demand worries.

Those same concerns pulled the energy index down 1.3 per cent, with stocks slipping on lower oil prices, as investors cashed in gains of more than 2 per cent made during the previous session.

Oil Search was among top per centage losers, ending 2.3 per cent lower, followed by Santos Ltd which also declined about 2 per cent and touched its lowest since Nov 26 earlier in the day.

The financial index closed the session 1.6 per cent lower, in its second week of consecutive losses. The index tumbled 2.3 per cent on a weekly basis, its biggest drop in one month.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.8 per cent or 70.66 points to finish the session at 8,722.51.

A2 Milk fell 3.4 per cent and was among worst performers, along with Fisher and Paykel Healthcare which fell 4.2 per cent, to its lowest in over a year.

REUTERS