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Australia: Shares fall on Trump impeachment inquiry; New Zealand steady

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Australian shares fell on Wednesday after the US House of Representatives opened an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, while signs of more tensions in US-China trade relations further undermined appetite for riskier assets.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell on Wednesday after the US House of Representatives opened an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, while signs of more tensions in US-China trade relations further undermined appetite for riskier assets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index shed 0.6 per cent or 43.2 points to 6,705.80 by 0214 GMT. The benchmark closed flat on Tuesday.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 saw its biggest daily drop in a month overnight after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the formal inquiry, which will examine whether Mr Trump sought Ukraine's help to smear former Vice-President Joe Biden, the front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Adding to market jitters, Mr Trump delivered a stinging rebuke to China's trade practices on Tuesday at the United Nations General Assembly, leaving markets anxious after the more constructive tone adopted by both countries on the negotiations last week.

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Market voices on:

"Our equity market is probably more following the way of Wall Street, which had a sizeable fall...that has been the main drag so far today," said James Tao, market analyst at CommSec.

Miners led losses on the Australian benchmark, dipping 1.4 per cent to its lowest level since Sept 13, hurt by a fall in ironore prices.

Iron ore producer Mt. Gibson Iron tumbled almost 8 per cent to its lowest since Sept 10, while fellow miner Champion Iron Ltd shed almost 5 per cent.

Nearly all components of the energy subindex were trading in negative territory, as prices for oil declined, sending the sector down by over 1 per cent.

Oil and gas major Woodside Petroleum fell nearly 2 per cent to a near two-week low, while Santos declined 1.5 per cent.

Financial stocks fell 0.4 per cent, with most components, including the largest banks, trading lower.

Bucking the trend, gold stocks advanced over 1 per cent, helped by firmer bullion prices as growing calls for Mr Trump's impeachment curbed risk appetite and drove investors into safe haven buying.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged around 0.1 per cent or 7.62 points higher to 10,866.33, helped by consumer and financial stocks. 

REUTERS