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Australia: Shares retreat from 6-week high on resources, energy


[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell 0.4 per cent on Tuesday, backing off from six-week highs under pressure from weak global data and resources and energy sectors amid falling iron ore and oil prices.

Disappointing data showing the pace of growth in the US services sector slowed in October to a six-month low and weak German business sentiment also sapped confidence.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell about 23.3 points to 5,435.6 by 0100 GMT. The benchmark, which rose 0.9 per cent on Monday, has risen in eight of the past ten sessions. "Consumer confidence in Australia is at below average level, European growth has been quite sluggish, and even American growth has some question marks around it. The market is a little bit nervous about these factors," said Damien Boey, equity strategist at Credit Suisse. "Liquidity has been really quite poor and the performance of equities has been positive but not quite as much as bonds," he said.

Iron ore - the top revenue earner for global miners Vale , Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton - has struggled to recover since falling below US$100 a tonne in mid-May. The commodity has lost 40 per cent of its value this year, hit hard by a flood of supply as China's demand growth slows.

BHP, Rio, Newcrest Mining, Orica and Fortescue Metals Group were all down 1.4-2 per cent.

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U.S. crude oil briefly tumbled to a 28-month low below US$80 a barrel after Goldman Sachs slashed its crude price forecasts, citing abundant supply and lackluster demand.

U.S. stocks failed to inspire, ending near flat on Monday, pausing after the S&P 500's biggest weekly gain since January 2013.

Of the major banks, only Westpac Banking Corp was trading higher while healthcare sector and consumer staples provided some support.

CSL Ltd was up 1.3 per cent after it said it will acquire Novartis' influenza vaccine business in a US$275 million deal.

BC Iron tumbled 9 per cent after it cut its sales guidance for the year to June 2015, while Beach Energy slipped 7.5 per cent as its quarterly revenue fell 12 per cent on the prior quarter.

The New Zealand stock market was flat after a long weekend with the benchmark NZX-50 index sitting marginally lower at 5,332.18 but within sight of last week's record high.

The slight softness was being driven by a 1.1 per cent fall in top-stock Fletcher Building to NZ$8.44 which was partially offset by modest gains for top-10 companies Auckland International Airport, Sky TV, and casino operator Sky City.

Auction company and takeover target Turners Group was up 2 per cent at NZ$3.09 on low volumes after Dorchester Pacific's offer was declared unconditional.

Campervan and tourist attractions company Tourism Holdings was 4.2 per cent higher at NZ$1.48, as it reiterated its aim to lift net profit by 35 per cent this year in a presentation to a fund managers conference.


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