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Australian shares end lower on weaker commodities; NZ up

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed lower on Monday as mining and oil stocks were pressured by weaker commodity prices while banks fell as the powerful Royal Commission inquiry into financial services resumed its hearing.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.5 per cent or 28.8 points to 6004, extending a 0.1 per cent loss on Friday.

The mining index ended its seventh straight session lower and shed 1.7 per cent after metals like aluminium, lead and nickel on the London exchange posted losses.

Global miners Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton ended the session 0.1 per cent and 2.9 per cent lower, respectively.

Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group Ltd said its board approved the development of a $1.28 billion mine and rail project in Western Australia to boost the price it gets for its iron ore.

Energy stocks lost 3.1 per cent for their lowest close in more than a month on supply concerns.

To address potential supply shortfalls, Saudi Arabia, de-facto leader of producer cartel OPEC, as well as top producer Russia said on Friday they were discussing raising oil production by some 1 million barrels a day.

Oil and gas producers Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd led losses and were 3.5 per cent and 3.6 per cent lower, respectively.

Gold stocks also closed lower as US President Donald Trump revived hopes a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, after unexpectedly cancelling the meeting last week. Newcrest Mining ended 1.3 per cent down.

Banks pulled back with Commonwealth Bank of Australia down the most by 0.4 per cent.

Retail conglomerate Wesfarmers was one of the biggest drags on the benchmark, falling 0.9 per cent, after local media said it was looking to sell its pubs and liquor business just days after it announced the sale of its loss-making British Homebase chain for £1.

Bucking the trend and topping the index, plumbing products maker Reliance Worldwide Corp soared 26.6 per cent and closed at a record-high after it resumed trade following an announcement last week that it would buy UK-based John Guest Holdings Ltd for about US$923 million.

Additionally, Investa Office Fund hit a near 10-year high on a US$2.3 billion buyout offer from Blackstone Group. The stock jumped 11.2 per cent.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed up 0.1 per cent or 6.8 points.

Telecom and material stocks led the rise with telco Spark New Zealand Ltd up 2.4 per cent and New Zealand's biggest construction firm Fletcher Building Ltd closing 2 per cent higher.


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