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Australian shares end lower after notching 10-year peak; NZ slips

[BENGALURU] Australian shares struck a 10-year high before ending weaker on Wednesday, snapping a winning streak that had lasted for five consecutive sessions, with declines led by materials and real estate stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index peaked at 6,150 points in early trade before closing at 6,096.7, down 39.1 points, or 0.6 per cent from Tuesday.

Miners accounted for most of the losses. Rio Tinto eased off its over six-year high to end 0.8 per cent in the red while rival BHP Billiton lost 0.3 per cent.

The sector was subdued by trends on steel markets in China, where muted demand capped a rise in futures that had been spurred by Beijing tightening rules on new steel production facilities.

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Gold miner Newcrest Mining dropped 2.3 per cent, in its biggest loss since Dec 22. Gold prices took a hit as surging US treasury yields and an ongoing rally in equities dulled the precious metal's safe-haven sheen.

Property stocks also retreated.

Goodman Group lost its most in over three months while GPT Group slipped 3 per cent to its lowest in over two months.

Financial stocks also weakened, with the "Big Four" banks all losing ground, led by Commonwealth Bank of Australia , which shed over 0.7 per cent.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.8 per cent, its biggest drop in over two months, as healthcare stocks lost demand.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare shed 2.1 per cent to strike its lowest in over one month, while Ryman Healthcare retreated from a record high in the previous session to end down 0.9 per cent.

Dairy products maker a2 Milk finished down 2.9 per cent and was the biggest drag on the index.

REUTERS