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Oct 13 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Thursday with resources under pressure, after weaker-than-expected Chinese economic data and a slump in oil prices dampened investor sentiment.
Mood soured after China’s September trade data showed a sharp decline in exports, raising fresh concerns about the health of one of Australia’s major trading partners.
Fears about an imminent rate hike in the United States renewed after minutes from a meeting of Federal Reserve policymakers last month indicated they might raise interest rates if the U.S. economy continued to strengthen.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended down 0.71 percent at 5435.5, its lowest closing since Sept 28.
Energy and basic material stocks led the losses, with oil majors Woodside Petroleum Ltd falling 1.6 percent and Oil Search Ltd losing 3.6 percent. Large-cap miners BHP Billiton Ltd ended down 2.9 percent while Rio Tinto shed 2.7 percent.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed up 0.18 percent to finish the session at 7120.05, powered by gains in consumer cyclicals and utilities.
Fletcher Building was the top gainer on the benchmark, ending higher at 4.6 percent, after posting its biggest single day percentage gain in eight weeks. Meridian Energy rose over 2 percent. (Reporting by Anusha Ravindranath in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)