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Australia shares slip on China data miss; NZ extends fall

[BENGALURU] Australian shares slipped on Thursday after China, the country's biggest trade partner, reported a host of data that was largely below market expectations, and as metal prices extended losses.

China's fixed-asset investment, factory output and retail sales all grew less than expected, reinforcing views that the world's second-largest economy is gradually beginning to lose steam in the face of rising borrowing costs.

Meanwhile, Australia's jobs blew past expectations to surge the most in two years in August, yet unemployment was static as more people looked for work, limiting upward pressure on wages, inflation and interest rates.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.1 per cent, or 5.556 points, lower at 5,738.7. It had shed 0.04 per cent on Wednesday.

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Material stocks Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton fell 1.7 per cent and 1.8 per cent, respectively.

Copper and nickel futures were under pressure from concerns that supplies are mounting, while weaker Chinese steel and iron ore futures also weighed on sentiment.

In the healthcare sector, Cochlear and CSL dropped 0.8 per cent each.

On the other hand, the financial sector provided some support to the index, with the big four banks rising slightly. Macquarie Group Ltd climbed 1.2 per cent, marking its fourth consecutive session of gains.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia said it issued US$3 billion in bonds in the United States, helping the stock to rise for a fourth straight session.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.1 per cent, or 8.2 points, to 7,819.23 in its third consecutive session of decline.

Investors awaited manufacturing PMI data expected later in the day.

Industrial stocks weighed on the index, with Air New Zealand ending 2.6 per cent lower.

Consumer staples stocks also fell with a2 Milk Company shedding 1.5 per cent.

Information technology and health care stocks rose with Vista Group International and Summerset Group Holdings ending 0.6 per cent and two per cent higher, respectively.