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Australian shares pulled lower by banks, commodity firms; NZ also down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares tumbled on Tuesday, as banks and commodity stocks bore the brunt of a selloff after a slide on Wall Street sapped global risk sentiment.

Most equity markets in Asia recouped some of their losses on media reports China's top trade negotiator was preparing to visit the United States as investors watched for signs of a de-escalation in their trade war.

But selling in Australia failed to ease off, with the S&P/ASX 200 index closing down 1.8 per cent or 5,834.20 points at its lowest in a week.

The benchmark rose 0.3 per cent on Monday, though the broader market has lost ground this year on worries about slowing global growth, lower profits and a weakening Chinese economy - Australia's biggest trading partner.

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Financial stocks accounted for most of the index's fall and lost 2.2 per cent, with sector heavyweight Westpac Banking Corp giving up 5.4 per cent, as it traded ex-dividend.

Fellow "big four" banks retreated between 1.2 per cent and 1.5 per cent.

Downbeat metals and mining stocks also dragged the market to close nearly 2 per cent lower, hurt by softer iron ore prices.

The world's biggest miner BHP Billiton declined 1.7 per cent, while rival Rio Tinto fell 2.5 per cent.

Energy stocks fell nearly 2 per cent, reversing course after Monday's gains, as oil prices fell after U.S. President Donald Trump called on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) not to cut supply.

Healthcare stocks also reversed course to close lower at 2.6 per cent, after four straight sessions of gains.

Hearing device maker Cochlear Ltd fell 4.2 per cent. The company announced plans of investing up to A$21 million ($15.14 million)in Israeli-Belgium co Nyxoah S.A, which specilaizes in providing treatment for sleep disorder.

Technology stocks, declined 2.6 per cent, in line with their peers on Wall Street. Wisetech Global and Computershare Ltd shed more than 3 per cent each.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell nearly 1 per cent to finish the session at 8,861.52.

Westpac's New Zealand shares led losses, down 5.5 per cent. Ryman Healthcare Ltd fell 4.4 per cent.

REUTERS