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Australia shares slip on financials; NZ edges lower

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[BENGALURU] Australia shares slipped on Wednesday as investors switched to resource plays from defensive sectors on strength in commodities after Chinese President Xi Jinping's comments about further opening the economy and lower tariffs on Tuesday.

Commodity prices were buoyed by the comments, while the export-influenced Australian dollar firmed, especially against safe haven currencies like the yen on Tuesday.

"Today, you see money likely flowing towards the resource stocks, I think it is a rotation," said James McGlew, executive director for corporate stockbroking at Perth-based Argonaut.

The consumer staples, telcos and property trusts are traditionally seen as defensive parts of the market, he said.

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The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.3 per cent, or 19.2 points, to 5,837.8 by 0303 GMT. It rose 0.8 per cent on Tuesday.

The financial index contributed the most to the benchmark's weakness, falling as much as 0.9 per cent. Westpac Banking Corp was the biggest drag on the main index, losing as much as 1.5 per cent. Commonwealth Bank of Australia was the second largest contributor to the benchmark's fall, down as much as one per cent.

Resources stocks gained, with the Australian mining index rising up to 1.6 per cent and on track to clock a fourth straight session of gains.

However, miner South32 lost as much as 2.6 per cent after the company said its Cerro Matoso operation accepted the Colombian Constitutional Court order to pay damages to local communities and that the company plans to appeal.

Mining behemoth Rio Tinto traded up to 2.5 per cent higher while rival BHP gained as much as 2.9 per cent.

The most-traded September iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange was up 0.8 percent.

Energy stocks also gained with the sector index rising up to 1.1 per cent to its highest in more than two months. Services firm WorleyParsons Ltd was 4 per cent higher.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped 0.3 per cent, or 27.17 points, to 8,442.6, hurt by consumer staples and materials.

Homebuilder Fletcher Building lost as much as 2.3 per cent while medical devices maker Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp was 2.5 per cent lower.

REUTERS