Australian shares slide as strong U.S data sparks rate-hike fears, RBA in focus



Dec 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped on Tuesday ahead of a central bank policy decision, as strong U.S. data sparked fears that the Federal Reserve could hike interest rates for longer.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO fell 0.4% by 2330 GMT after closing 0.3% higher on Monday. S&P 500 E-minis futures EScv1 were up 0.13%.

Data showed U.S. services industry activity unexpectedly picked up in November in the latest sign of underlying economic momentum that could keep the Fed on alert to tighten policy further as it fights high inflation.

In Australia, investor focus is on the central bank's last policy meeting for the year, where it is expected to deliver another modest 25 basis-point hike, a Reuters poll showed.

Energy stocks .AXEJ dropped 0.9% and were among the top losers on the benchmark, with sector majors Woodside Energy WDS.AX and Santos STO.AX down 1.8% and 2%, respectively.

Beach Energy BPT.AX fell nearly 4% after the contractor of the Waitsia gas project, Clough Ltd, was placed under voluntary administration.

Miners .AXMM dipped nearly 1% even though iron ore prices rose overnight on hopes of better demand from top steelmaker China after more cities eased COVID-19 restrictions over the weekend.

Global miners BHP BHP.AX and Rio Tinto RIO.AX slipped 0.7% and 0.6%, respectively.

Tech .AXIJ and gold stocks .AXGD fell more than 2% each.

Financials .AXFJ were marginally higher, with the so called 'big four' banks up between 0.3% and 0.6%.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 slid 0.7% to 11,601.06.


Reporting by Navya Mittal in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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