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Australia: Shares fall as materials stocks weigh; NZ declines

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[BENGALURU] Materials stocks led Australian shares lower on Wednesday tracking lower base metal prices and a choppy Wall Street, as investors awaited third quarter economic growth data.

Australia's real gross domestic product (GDP) rose 0.6 per cent on-quarter and 2.8 per cent on-year, official data showed, falling short of the expected annual 3 per cent, and 0.7 per cent sen in the previous quarter.

Wall Street ended Tuesday lower with all three of its indices in the red, while falling copper, iron ore and gold prices hit materials stocks.

"I think we had a bit of a setback in the US markets overnight so to some extent we are following that lead in Australia," said Damien Hennessy Co-founder of Heuristic Investment Systems.

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The S&P/ASX 200 index fell for a third session, down 13.12 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 5,958.8 by 0027 GMT, ahead of the GDP data. The benchmark ended the previous session down 0.2 per cent.

Mr Hennessy added that if GDP came in as expected or even below then it would strengthen the case for no changes to interest rates for some time.

The Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday left its cash rate unchanged at 1.5 per cent, as expected, adding that it expects inflation to pick up gradually.

BHP Billiton fell 1.4 per cent, followed by South32 and Rio Tinto losing 2.8 per cent and 1.5 per cent, respectively, pulling down the index.

Explosives maker Incitec Pivot fell as much as 4 per cent after it said will cease to supply BHP Billiton with explosives raw materials when its current contract expires, which it said would affect its 2020 and 2021 profits.

Gold stocks were also negative with Newcrest Mining shedding 1.5 percent as a rebound in the dollar saw gold hitting a two-month low.

Some recovery in momentum of oil prices failed to cheer up local energy stocks with the energy index down 0.8 per cent as Woodside Petroleum shed as much as 0.7 per cent.

n the other hand, the 'Big four' banks were back in positive territory, gaining between 0.1 per cent and 0.9 per cent, shrugging off the pressure that controversy over a large-scale government investigation into the financial services sector had put on the stocks in the past few sessions.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 per cent, or 13.99 points to 8,162.22.

Consumer and healthcare stocks led the losses with SkyCity Entertainment and Ryman Healthcare each shedding mor than 1 per cent.

REUTERS