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Australia shares slump to Brexit lows as Trump vote stuns market; NZ down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares gave up early gains on Wednesday to close at their lowest since the Brexit vote, as Republican candidate Donald Trump appeared ever more likely to win the White House.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.9 per cent, or 101.19 points, to 5,156.6 at the close of trade in heavy trading. The benchmark index touched four-month low during trade, while marking its worst day in more than two years.

The Australian Securities Exchange confirmed in a tweet that it hit an all-time record high of 1.71 million trades on Wednesday. The previous record was 1.53 million set on Brexit day, June 24.

Mr Trump scored a series of surprising wins in battleground states including Florida and Ohio, rattling world markets counting on Democrat Hillary Clinton to win, with investors worried a Trump victory could compound economic and geopolitical uncertainty.

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With voting completed in 49 of the 50 US states, he also narrowly led in Michigan, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, giving him a clear advantage in the state-by-state fight for 270 Electoral College votes needed to win.

"Brexit was big surprise, but this (Trump's victory) is absolutely stunning," said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

Decliners outnumbered advancers by a by three to one on the Australian stock exchange, with 529 issues touching 52-week new lows, compared to 439 hitting 52-week highs.

All of the major sectors lost, with financials leading the pack.

Australia's "Big Four" banks dropped nearly 2 per cent, with NAB shares hitting a three-month low during the day.

Oil stocks also traded in negative territory, as crude prices tumbled on the news of Mr Trump leading Mrs Clinton.

The gold index gained on a nearly four-per cent jump in gold prices as investors sought out safe haven assets.

Newcrest Mining touched a two-month high.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 3.3 per cent, or 230.15 points, to close at 6,664.21, its lowest since end-March. The index also recorded its biggest percentage loss since the 2008 financial crisis.

Auckland International Airport Ltd dropped 3.4 per cent, while Meridian Energy dips more than 4 per cent.