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Australian shares fell on Friday to their worst day in two weeks, dragged by tech stocks after red-hot US inflation data fuelled bets on more aggressive interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and sent Wall Street sharply lower.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1% to 7,217.30, snapping a three-day run of gains to mark its worst session since Jan. 27.

However, the benchmark gained 1.4% for the week, its second in a row.

Technology stocks slid 3.8% in their worst day in more than a week, with Block Inc's Australian shares down 6.7%, while Xero Ltd and WiseTech Global dropped 4.5% and 3.4%, respectively.

Australia shares set to open higher, NZ edges up

US stocks closed sharply lower overnight after consumer prices data came in stronger than expected and comments from a Fed official raised fears that the central bank would hike rates aggressively to tame inflation.

Meanwhile, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe said it was plausible interest rates could rise later this year, but there were risks in moving too early.

There are a lot of negatives in the Australian economy right now, including travel restrictions for international passengers and inflation issues, said Brad Smoling, managing director of Smoling Stockbroking.

"It is a smart choice by the RBA not to raise rates until we see just how this plays out," he said.

Financials finished 0.5% weaker, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia leading the decline, down 2.2%. Brokerage Citi on Thursday cut its price target for the country's top lender on margin concerns.

However, Insurance Australia Group climbed 4.2% on beating first-half profit and dividend estimates.

Miners rose 0.5%, hitting a three-week high on strong iron ore prices.

Sector heavyweights Rio Tinto, BHP Group and Fortescue Metals Group gained between 1.2% and 2.9%.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 1.9% to 12,173.78 in its sharpest fall since Jan. 28, 2021.

Data showed the country's near-term inflation was expected to rise in the first quarter of 2022.

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