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Australia: Shares slump as weak data, China concerns unnerve investors


[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell the most in three months on Thursday as weak domestic economic data, concerns about slowing Chinese growth and a slump in the oil price all weighed on investors.

Financial stocks led the benchmark index lower for a fifth straight session, after official data showed building approvals down nearly 13 per cent for November, four times the rate of decline forecast by analysts.

The S&P/ASX 200 index dipped 112.8 points, or 2.2 per cent, to 5,010.3 at the close of trade. The benchmark has fallen every trading day in 2016, and is now 5.4 per cent for the year so far.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.8 per cent, or 49.1 points, to finish the session at 6,213.4.