May 30, 2013 / 12:32 AM / in 4 years

REFILE-Australian shares fall to six-week lows, banks and miners hit

(Corrects day in first paragraph to Thursday from Wednesday)

SYDNEY, May 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell to a six-week low on Thursday morning as financials lost ground while weak metals prices hit miners.

Wall Street’s decline overnight on growing concerns the U.S. Federal Reserve would taper off its massive bond-buying programme this year weighed on sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index dropped to 4,929.2 in early trade, its lowest point since April 19. It was down 0.8 percent or 39.3 points at 4,935.4 by 0026 GMT. The benchmark edged 0.1 percent higher on Wednesday.

Flagship miners BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd lost 1.4 percent and 2 percent respectively.

Financials were also weaker, with National Australia Bank tumbling 4.7 percent after trading ex-dividend. Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group fell 1.2 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively.

Investors are also keenly awaiting local capex data due at 0130 GMT to gauge business spending plans ahead.

Australia’s mining investment boom will peak soon and spending in the non-resource sector should stay soft, an outcome that will probably keep the door open for an official interest rate cut, figures out on Thursday are expected to show.

The local market has come under selling pressure recently on a combination of factors, including the Fed stimulus worries and slowing growth in China, Australia’s major export market.

New Zealand’s benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.1 percent or 6 points to 4,482.3. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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