Nov 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares were lower on Wednesday as commodity-related stocks fell, with oil prices down for a third day in a row on Tuesday, and the price of nickel down more than 5 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.5 percent or 27.146 points to 5941.6 by 0045 GMT, but was slightly stronger at 5,946.6 by 0130 GMT. The benchmark dropped 0.8 percent on Tuesday.
Oil prices fell after the International Energy Agency, a forum of 29 countries under the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation, forecast on Tuesday that oil demand growth would increase more gradually over the coming months which may result in a surplus in the first half of next year.
Retreating nickel prices on Tuesday led a broad-based pullback in base metals prices after weaker-than-expected economic data from China sparked concerns about demand.
Iron ore futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange were 4.6 percent lower, while Shanghai rebar prices declined 2.5 percent at 0038 GMT.
Global miners BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto were the biggest drag on the index, dropping as much as 2.5 percent and 2.8 percent respectively.
The energy index slipped 2.4 percent during the day, on track to close lower for a sixth consecutive session. Oil and gas explorer Beach Energy Ltd was the biggest percentage loser on the sector’s index, shedding 6.8 percent.
Woodside Petroleum Ltd, Australia’s largest independent oil and gas company, lost as much as 2.8 percent is on track to finish its fourth consecutive session lower.
Royal Dutch Shell said on Monday it had sold its entire Woodside stake for $2.7 billion.
Woodside Petroleum’s shares closed at A$32.24 on Monday and fell as as low as A$30.34 on Wednesday.
Ric Spooner, chief market strategist at CMC Markets said that there were reports of investors selling stocks to make room in their portfolios for holdings of Woodside.
That selling in turn triggered a round of profit-taking that continued in the banks and industrial sector, Spooner added.
The financial index fell close to its lowest in a month while engineering services provider Monadelphous Group Ltd and Sydney Airport Holdings dropped as much as 3.3 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 percent or 17.35 points to 7990.65.
The biggest losers on the index were utilities and telecommunication stocks.
Spark New Zealand fell as much as 1.6 percent and Genesis Energy Ltd slumped 5.3 percent to NZ$2.09, its lowest since Oct 9.
For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Nicole Pinto in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)