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Australian shares weaker as oil slump hits energy stocks; NZ flat

[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell on Tuesday, as an overnight slump in oil prices and weaker commodities squeezed energy and mining stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.6 per cent to 6,203.6 at the close of trade. The benchmark fell 0.4 per cent on Monday.

The Australian energy index closed over 2 per cent lower to its lowest level in nearly a month, after oil prices tumbled over 4 per cent overnight as Libyan ports reopened and traders eyed supply increases by Russia and other producers.

Oil prices attempted a slight recovery in early Asian trade, but not enough to sway investors as prices took a dip soon after, furthering losses among energy stocks.

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Woodside Petroleum was the biggest drag on the energy index, while Origin Energy and Oil Search fell 2.1 per cent and 2.8 per cent, respectively.

Oil Search investors were doubly hit on Tuesday with both the oil price slump and a reported 18 per cent decline in first half revenue hitting the stock.

Weaker commodity prices added to market woes, and hit miners, with the main mining index down 1.4 per cent.

Global miner Rio Tinto slipped 0.3 per cent, as prices overshadowed a jump in iron ore output shipments from Australia and expectations of a stronger 2018 performance.

"The Rio result wasn't too bad, but when you see copper and lead prices down they get a wash down from those negative price moves," said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

Concerns over signs of softening in the Chinese economy - Australia's biggest export market - also dented sentiment after data showed second quarter economic growth expanded at a slower pace with June industrial output growth the weakest in over two years.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended the session flat, at 8,978.89.

Gains in Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd were offset by a 1.7 per cent and 2.1 per cent drop in a2 Milk and embattled Fletcher Building.

REUTERS