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Australia shares slump as Trump-Biden debate stokes caution

* Benchmark loses 1.4% during the quarter

* Miners and financials drag the index lower

* NZ bourse rises 2.6% during the quarter (Updates to close)

Sept 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell more than 2% on Wednesday, with miners and financials suffering major blows, as investors tracked Wall Street futures lower after the first U.S. presidential debate stoked caution and uncertainty ahead of the election.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 2.3% lower at 5,815.9, posting their third straight session in the red. The benchmark snapped a five-month winning streak, and lost 1.4% during the quarter.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden debated on Wednesday as markets pulled back from early gains, with the U.S. stock futures retreating after Trump cast doubt on whether he would accept the election’s outcome.

S&P 500 futures were down 0.6%, with Dow Jones and Nasdaq 100 futures each losing as much as 1% after the debate.

“The U.S. elections, and today’s debate, is adding an extra level to an already uncertain market,” said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbrocking.

“No matter what the outcome of the elections, it will be contentious, and it will add more uncertainty to the equities,” Smoling added.

Back home, Australian heavyweight mining stocks, which are reliant on exports to China, were the biggest losers after shedding 2.3% in their third consecutive session of losses.

Global iron ore mining giants BHP Group and Rio Tinto ended 2.9% and 1.3% lower, respectively.

Investors appeared to have shrugged off a positive data from China that showed factory activity extended growth in September, suggesting a recovery in the world’s second largest economy.

Financials index ended 2.2% lower, with the so-called “Big Four” banks posting major declines.

Top two lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp fell up to 1.6% each.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended flat at 11,747.28, recovering from an earlier drop of 0.6%.

The index lost 1.6% in September, ending its five-month winning streak, but finished the quarter 2.6% higher.

Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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