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Australia: Shares in the red on global growth fears; New Zealand flat

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Australian shares slipped on Wednesday, after weak domestic economic data and trade concerns heightened fears of a slowdown in global economic growth.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares slipped on Wednesday, after weak domestic economic data and trade concerns heightened fears of a slowdown in global economic growth.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.9 per cent to 6,515.4 by 0220 GMT. The benchmark inched down 0.1 per cent on Tuesday.

Australia's economy grew at its slowest pace in a decade last quarter, data showed on Wednesday, as cash-strapped consumers went on strike, an urgent argument for more monetary and fiscal stimulus as headwinds mount globally.

Global market confidence was also dented after data on Tuesday showed that US manufacturing activity contracted for the first time in three years in August, as Sino-US trade tensions weighed on business confidence.

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Market voices on:

US President Donald Trump warned he would be "tougher" on Beijing if negotiations extended beyond the 2020 US presidential election and he is re-elected.

"The US and China are still struggling to organise a meet, and hope of any type of positive dialogue, let alone a deal, is dropping swiftly," Nick Twidale, director & co-founder at brokerage Xchainge said.

Financial stocks, the biggest constituent of the benchmark by market capitalisation, lost about 1.1 per cent. The "Big Four" banks slumped between 0.8 per cent and 1.3 per cent.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland fell between 0.6 per cent and 1.4 per cent, after the country's corporate regulator sued the two regional banks over what it called unfair loan contracts for small businesses.

Export-driven healthcare stocks declined as much as 1.8 per cent, touching its lowest level in more than a week.

Biotech major CSL and Ramsay Health Care shed nearly 2 per cent each.

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea-based Oil Search rose 3.6 per cent and was among the top performers on the benchmark stock index, after PNG on Tuesday said it would honour a gas deal, needed for Oil Search and its partners to proceed with an LNG expansion plan.

Gold stocks which were the lone gainers, jumped 2.4 per cent, as wider market turmoil prompted investors to seek safety in the metal. Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining advanced 3.1 per cent each.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was flat at 10,951.14. Energy retailer Contact Energy and dairy firm Synlait Milk traded between 2.2 per cent and 2.9 per cent lower.

Fonterra, the world's biggest dairy exporter, was down as much as 1.5 per cent. The company on Wednesday said that a weaker Chinese yuan is hurting consumer purchasing power for its US dollar-priced dairy products.

REUTERS