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Australia shares lower following weak China factory data; NZ steady

[BENGALURU] Australian shares slipped on Thursday after China reported weak factory data for August and metal prices tumbled overnight.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.16 per cent, or 9.456 points to 5734.8 by 0246 GMT.

China's fixed asset investment for January-August also expanded at a pace short of economists' forecasts.

On the other hand, data showed the Australian market added 54,200 jobs, surpassing employment expectations of a 15,000 increase, though the unemployment rate only met analysts'expectation.

Australia's interest rates "are definitely going to be sitting for the rest of the year. So what we are seeing is a bit of resetting between the sectors and there is a rotation between yield and dividend," said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stock broking for Argonaut in Perth.

Material stocks were the biggest drag on the index, as copper prices fell to three-week lows and nickel slumped 5.2 per cent on Wednesday.

Rio Tinto, which closed at a three-and-a-half year high on Wednesday, was down as much as 1.7 per cent.

Kidman Resources Ltd, up as much as 11.6 per cent was the top percentage gainer on the All Ordinaries Index and Galaxy Resources Ltd was a big winner on the benchmark index, rising as much as 6.6 per cent.

Australia's big four banks all rose moderately. Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which advanced the past three days, was up as much as 0.7 per cent.

The country's largest lender issued US$3 billion in bonds in the United States as investors looked past unprecedented money-laundering accusations levelled against it.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was flat, or 1.52 points higher to 7828.95, as investors manufacturing PMI data expected later in the day.

Losses incurred in the utilities and telecom sector offset gains in the information technology and consumer discretionary sectors.

Spark New Zealand and a2 Milk Company Ltd fell as much as 1.3 per cent and 1.7 per cent each. a2 Milk is on track to posts its third consecutive day of losses after hitting an all time high on Monday.

Auckland International Airport Ltd and Xero Ltd rose as much as 1.1 per cent and 2.2 per cent respectively.