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Australia shares slide on real estate stocks, NZ nudges higher

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares slid on Thursday, dragged down by real estate stocks, after Wall Street tumbled in a broad selloff.

The S&P/ASX 200 index inched lower 0.1 per cent, or 6.3 points, to 5,678.7 by 0119 GMT. The benchmark rose one per cent on Wednesday to its highest close since Aug 2015.

Volumes were thin at around 17 per cent of the 30-day average.

Global sentiment remained gloomy as Wall Street slid on the back of a sharp drop in home resales and as worries in Europe about rescue plans for shaky Italian banks drove the gap between benchmark US 10-year notes and their German counterparts to the widest ever.

Market voices on:

Contracts to buy previously owned US homes fell in November to their lowest in nearly a year, a sign that rising interest rates could be weighing on the housing market, said the National Association of Realtors.

"Now, particularly with commercial properties, yields are not looking as attractive, and as rates rise more, people look at cash rather than holding it in a property trust. So the rise in interest rates make them a victim of monetary policy," said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

Real estate investment trusts Vicinity Centres Re Ltd and Dexus Property Group were the biggest drag, down as much as 3.6 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively.

Industrials also took a beating with Transurban Group, down about 2.7 per cent to a four-week low, joining the top losers.

Financial sector heavyweight Westpac Banking Corp and Australia's biggest bank by market capitalisation Commonwealth Bank of Australia lost around 0.4 per cent each.

Bucking the trend, gold stocks climbed with the ASX All Ordinaries Gold Index up as much as 4 per cent to hit its highest in more than two weeks.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index inched up 0.2 per cent or 12.1 points to 6887.88.

Air New Zealand Ltd was among the top percentage gainers on the benchmark, rising 2.1 per cent.

Retirement village operator Ryman Healthcare Ltd, gained 1.2 per cent.

At the other end, Comvita was among the biggest losers, sliding 1.2 per cent.