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Australia: Shares hit 2½-yr low as oil weakness saps confidence

Australian shares bucked a poor performance by Wall Street to edge 0.6 per cent higher on Thursday, aided by a hunt for dividend yield and more merger action.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell to their lowest close in 2½ years on Monday as persistent declines in the price of oil reinforced concerns about faltering global economic growth.

The S&P/ASX 200 index dipped 34.1 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 4,858.7 at the close of trade, its lowest finish since July 2013. The benchmark is down more than 8 per cent so far in 2016, and has only risen in one session for the year.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 67.7 points, or 1.1 per cent, to finish the session at 6,101.4.