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Australia: Shares hit one-month lows in jittery start after Paris attacks


[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell to their lowest in over a month on Monday in a gloomy start to the week following coordinated attacks in Paris that left more than 130 dead.

The market was already set to track a negative lead from Wall Street, which ended sharply lower on Friday just before news of the deadly assaults hit.

The S&P/ASX 200 index shed 1.0 per cent, or 49.66 points, to 5,001.00 by 2343 GMT, extending last week's 1.4 per cent slide. Earlier, the benchmark dipped below 5,000 for the first time since late September.

Police in Europe have widened their investigations into Friday's attacks, which were the worst atrocity in France since World War Two.

Analysts said the negative market reaction was expected and likely to be short lived barring any unexpected developments.

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"Since the Twin Towers attacks, there have been four major attacks across the globe," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in Melbourne. "The initial reaction in all jurisdictions were short, sharp sell-offs, but within 10 days of the events, the markets or local currency returned to the level of before the events. I would expect the same reaction for the Paris events."

Weighing on the index were the big four banks, which suffered losses of 1 per cent or more each. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group fell 1.5 per cent.

Embattled miner BHP Billiton eased 0.2 per cent, staying near its lowest in seven years set on Friday.

For more individual stocks activity click on New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 edged down 0.7 per cent, or 41.81 points, to 5,948.22. It fell as far as 5,945.60, its lowest in three weeks.

Among the biggest losers, software company Xero lost 2.8 per cent, and Sky City shed 2.4 percent. Kathmandu fell 1.9 per cent as Morningstar downgraded the retailer to hold from accumulate.

Bucking the trend, Fonterra's fund rose 1.9 per cent after the company announced it was increasing its earnings per share forecast by 5 NZ cents on Monday.

Also firmer, shares in Ebos Group climbed 0.4 per cent after the healthcare products distributor announced a deal to acquire natural health products business Red Seal.


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