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Australian shares closed lower in volatile trading on Wednesday as gains in the heavyweight financial segment failed to offset a slump in gold and mining stocks, ahead of the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's meet.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.16% to 7304.7. The benchmark slipped 0.4% on Tuesday.

The U.S. central bank kicked off its two-day policy meeting on Tuesday. Traders see a 99.9% chance of a 50 basis-point hike on Wednesday, according to CME's FedWatch Tool, which would mark the largest rate increase by the Fed since May 2000.

Local miners fell 1.2% to touch a one-week low as lingering demand worries over top metals consumer China's COVID-19 lockdown dragged iron ore prices lower.

Sector giants BHP and Rio Tinto crashed by 0.6% and 0.7% respectively, while Fortescue Metals lost 2.4% to hit a one-week low.

Australia shares slip

China's zero-tolerance policy and COVID-19 lockdowns are driving down global growth and could continue to affect domestic miners in the days ahead, Henry Jennings, senior analyst at Marcustoday Financial Newsletter said.

The gold sub-index tumbled 1% to hit its lowest since March 2, with sector leaders Newcrest Mining and Northern star losing 0.9% and 1.3% each.

Bucking the trend, financials surged 0.7%. Heavyweights Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking climbed 0.7% each, while the National Australia Bank rose 1% to mark its best day in over five weeks.

Australia and New Zealand Banking also advanced as much as 2.1%, after the country's No. 4 lender beat estimates for first-half profit.

Australian retail sales beat expectations for a third straight month in March, helping the country weather this week's rise in interest rates, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended the session flat after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand said the country's financial system remained robust in the context of significant global economic challenges.

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