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Australia shares slip, set to snap seven-day winning streak; New Zealand inches up

FILE PHOTO: A pedestrian is reflected in a window where an investor sits looking at a board displaying stock prices at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney, Australia February 9, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

(Reuters) - Australian shares slipped on Wednesday after a seven-session run of gains, led lower by miners, ahead of domestic inflation data due later in the day.

The S&P/ASX 200 index <.AXJO> fell 0.4%, or 24.5 points, to 6,720.90 by 2354 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.1% on Tuesday.

Third quarter consumer prices data will be examined for evidence of the effects of the Reserve Bank of Australia's three rate cuts this year to 0.75%.

"Like the United States, we're near record highs, yet the outlook for the economy is much more cautious," said Damian Rooney, director of equity sales at Argonaut. "My view is that the stock market is at a risk to retrace back."

Mining stocks <.AXMM> logged sharp losses, after iron-ore futures fell on Tuesday amid worries about rising inventories and lower demand from China. [IRONORE/]

Adding pressure, the World Bank downgraded outlook for energy and metal commodities prices, predicting a continued fall in 2020 after sharp declines in 2019 on a weaker outlook for global growth and consequent softer demand.

"The downgrade has a fair knock on effect for Australia, because we're such enormous producers of iron ore and base metals," Rooney said.

BHP Group Ltd <BHP.AX> and Rio Tinto Ltd <RIO.AX> shed as much as 1.3% and 1.2%, respectively. The world's No. 4 iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group <FMG.AX> lost as much as 1.6%.

Financials <.AXEJ> also edged lower, with shares of all of the "Big Four" lenders trading lower.

The country's biggest lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia <CBA.AX> fell 0.6% while Westpac Banking Corp <WBC.AX> traded 0.5% lower.

Bucking the trend, gold stocks <.AXGD> managed to lock in modest gains as the uptick in caution supported the sector which is seen as a proxy for investments in the safe-haven metal.

Also on the uptick, Genworth Mortgage Insurance Australia Ltd <GMA.AX> posted a 29.9% rise in third-quarter underlying net profit, citing improved conditions in the Australian property market.

Property developers such as Stockland Corp <SGP.AX>, Dexus <DXS.AX> and Abacus Property Group <ABP.AX> traded higher following Genworth's results.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index <.NZ50> rose 0.2% or 19.92 points to 10,814.86.

Market operator NZX Ltd <NZX.NZ> gained 3.3% while drug retailer EBOS Group Ltd <EBO.NZ> added 1.8%.

Investors will likely later switch attention to the U.S. Federal Reserve's interest rate decision, which is due early Thursday morning Sydney time, with markets largely pricing in another rate cut by the central bank.

(Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; editing by Jane Wardell)

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