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Topic Title: Australia Shares Pull Back on Soft China Data, Gold Miners Jump
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Created On: 07 January 2014 06:09 AM
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 07 January 2014 06:09 AM
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SYDNEY, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell 0.7 percent on Friday, with big banks and miners weighing as investors took profits at the index's 6-week highs after seeing signs weakness in Chinese manufacturing data.
China's factory activity slowed in December, official and private manufacturing surveys showed, reinforcing views that growth in the world's second-largest economy moderated in the final quarter of 2013.
"We saw that Chinese PMI number yesterday was a little bit lower than expected, so expect the material base to trade a bit weaker today," said Simon Twiss, a dealer at Arnhem Investment Management.
Top miners BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd fell 1.2 percent and 0.6 percent respectively. Fortescue Metals Group Ltd lost 1.8 percent.
The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 34.9 points to 5,333.0 by 0020 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.3 percent on Thursday, touching a six-week high.
The market tracked the weakness on Wall Street, which close lower on the first day of trading in 2014.
"Rising US bond yields are perhaps providing stock investors with some pause," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.
"One of the key issues for markets over coming months will be whether the Fed can exit from its QE strategy without pushing bond yields too high and so dampening the outlook for economic and profit growth," he said.
Australia's big four banks all pulled back. Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia slipped 0.7 percent, while both Westpac Banking Corp and National Australia Bank fell 0.8 percent.
Gold miners bucked the market trend and traded higher after gold prices jumped nearly 2 percent overnight. Newcrest Mining Ltd and Regis Resources Ltd, the biggest gold names on the ASX market, gained 0.1 percent and 1.0 percent respectively. Silver Lake Resources Ltd jumped 8.2 percent, making it the biggest winner on the index.
Telstra Corp Ltd, the country's biggest phone company, edged up 0.1 percent. New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.3 percent to 4,752.3 following a two-day holiday.
(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Eric Meijer)
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