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Australia shares extend losses as CSL, Fairfax slide; NZ edge lower

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares extended losses from the end of last week, with Monday's weakness led by biotech giant CSL Ltd, the biggest drag on the benchmark, while Fairfax Media tumbled after two private equity firms withdrew rival takeover bids.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.7 per cent, or 36.99 points, to 5,684.5 at the close of trade.

Australian shares fell 1.7 per cent on Friday, recording their biggest percentage fall since Nov 2016, in a broad-based sell-off, following a slump on Wall Street.

CSL Ltd was the biggest drag on the benchmark, falling two per cent to a near one-month closing low.

"CSL is just pulling back from an all-time record high, so it is not unusual to see a little bit of correction in it," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

Among the other big losers was Fairfax Media, which slumped more than 10 per cent to its lowest since March after it said two private equity firms withdrew from rival takeover bids worth up to A$2.9 billion (S$3.074 billion).

At the other end, Virgin Australia Holdings gained more than six per cent after the carrier said it expects to report positive cash flow for the 2017 fiscal year.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged 0.3 per cent, or 23.01 points, lower to finish the session at 7,588.43.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Ltd was the biggest drag, sliding two per cent.