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Australia shares hit 1-month low on oil woes; NZ higher


[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell for a second straight session on Thursday after an overnight drop in oil prices hit energy stocks, while positive results from National Australia Bank did little to boost sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3 per cent, or 15.6 points to 5359.798 by 0016 GMT. The benchmark dropped as much as 0.4 per cent to hit its lowest in a month.

"Markets are marginally negative, coinciding with yesterday's sell-off, and due to some weakness in the energy sector tracking oil prices," said Ben Le Brun, an analyst with OptionsXpress.

"There is still a 'glass half-empty' attitude adopted by investors at the moment," he added.

Oil settled down by more than one per cent on Wednesday as traders remained doubtful that Opec would be able to cut production come late November, and gold slipped.

The energy index fell for a fifth straight session, dropping to its lowest in four weeks. Oil major Woodside Petroleum Ltd hit a four-week low while its peer Oil Search Ltd dropped as much as 2.5 per cent.

Gold miners followed suit, with Newcrest Mining Ltd falling 0.73 per cent and Northern Star Resources Ltd shedding 1.2 per cent. The benchmark index slipped 1.3 per cent in early trade.

On the upside, financials saw a relief rally after National Australia Bank, Australia's fourth-largest bank by market value, reported a 4 per cent rise in annual cash profit, beating analysts' expectations.

NAB shares rose as much as 2.2 per cent, its biggest percentage gain in two months.

Iron-ore mining giants climbed after surging coal prices lifted demand for higher-grade iron ore. Rio Tinto Ltd rallied for a fourth straight session, hitting a one-year high, while BHP Billiton Ltd rose as much as 1.1 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rebounded after closing at its lowest in three months the previous day. The index rose 0.51 per cent, or 34.8 points to 6896.2 by 0024 GMT.

The rally was driven by industrials and utilities, with shares of Auckland International Airport Ltd posting their biggest percentage rise in more than two weeks and electricity retailer Contact Energy Ltd gaining 0.8 per cent.