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Australia: Shares slip on real estate stocks; NZ falls


[BENGALURU] Australian shares slipped on Monday, tracking a weak Wall Street finish, and as a number of top real estate and industrial firms traded ex-dividend to weigh on the benchmark index.

On the second last trading day of the year, the S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3 per cent to 6,804.9 at the close of trade. The benchmark had dropped 0.4 per cent on Friday.

Shares of high-profile property firms such as Mirvac Group, Dexus and Stockland Corp Ltd lost between 0.9 and 2.7 per cent on trading ex-dividend.

Sydney Airport Holdings slumped 4.3 per cent and toll road operator Transurban Group declined 2.6 per cent.

Investor sentiment was also dented by concerns over the year-end pressure on repo market in the US after a scare in September which saw repo rates shoot up to as much as 10 per cent, more than four times the Fed's rate.

On Friday, the Nasdaq ended 0.2 per cent lower, snapping an 11-day winning streak, while the S&P 500 closed flat.

In Australia, financial stocks, which account for about a third of the benchmark, trimmed most of their losses to close largely flat.

A 0.4 per cent dip in the heavyweight metals and mining index also dragged the main index. Global miners BHP Group Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd shed 0.6 per cent and 0.9 per cent, respectively.

Defying the trend, gold stocks edged up 0.7 per cent, benefiting from bullion prices hitting a two-month peak on a weaker US dollar.

Gold Road Resources Ltd jumped 3.6 per cent, while Westgold Resources Ltd added 2.8 per cent by the end of the session.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 0.4 per cent or 45.67 points to finish the day at 11,556.45.

Electricity retailer Meridian Energy Ltd and real-estate firm Argosy Property Ltd were the top losers on the bourse, falling 3.1 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively.

Retirement village operator Metlifecare Ltd rose as much as 7.1 per cent to its highest since November 2007 after it agreed to be acquired by Asia Pacific Village Group, an entity of Swedish buyout firm EQT AB.