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Australia shares end lower after Fed hints at more hikes; NZ down
December 15, 2016 / 6:15 AM / a year ago

Australia shares end lower after Fed hints at more hikes; NZ down

(Updates to close)

Dec 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended lower on Thursday, with energy and metal stocks taking a hit from the U.S. dollar which surged when the U.S. Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter point and hinted at a faster pace of increases in 2017.

The fed funds target was to raised to a range of between 0.50 percent and 0.75 percent, as widely expected. But the prospect of three rate hikes next year, versus the two anticipated earlier spooked investors.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen said some policymakers had begun shifting their views about fiscal policy, while adding Trump’s election had put the central bank under a “cloud of uncertainty”.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.8 percent,or 46.02 points lower at 5,538.60.

Australian gold stocks saw their worst day in nearly eight months after the strong dollar pulled global gold prices to their lowest in more than 10 months.

Newcrest Mining Ltd fell 5.2 percent and Regis Resources Ltd was down 8 percent.

Declines in oil prices drove energy stocks down, with Woodside Petroleum and Santos dropping 2.8 percent and 10.7 percent, respectively.

The metals index posted a fall of 2.3 percent, with mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd and Newcrest Mining Ltd falling 1.8 to 5.2 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index finished 0.7 percent or 49.24 points down at 6,748.62.

Consumer and utilities stocks led the losses, with Sky Network Television falling 4.2 percent, while Contact Energy Ltd lost 1.7 percent.

Reporting by Krishna V Kurup in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer

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