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Australian shares posted their biggest drop in about six weeks on Wednesday, as concerns about China’s sluggish economic growth and uncertainty over future policy direction of the US Federal Reserve dented investor sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.2% to 7,218.3 by 0033 GMT, its worst intraday loss since July 7.

The benchmark also touched its lowest level in five weeks.

Investors gauged if the Fed might have to go on longer on its rate-hiking path to tame inflation after US retail sales increased by 0.7% in July, ahead of the 0.4% boost economists had anticipated.

A deepening concern around China’s economy, policy options and financial markets also weighed heavily on investor sentiment.

Technology stocks tracked overnight Wall Street losses, plunging 3% to post their worst day in four weeks.

Sector majors and ASX-listed shares of Block dropped 2.4% and 3.5%, respectively. Banks also slid almost 2% and were on track for biggest losses since May 4. The “big four” banks slid between 1.3% and 3.7%.

Australia shares set for worst day in nearly 2 weeks as banks, miners weigh

Miners slipped 2%, while traders weighed China’s latest wave of disappointing data against the outlook for rising imports and pressure on Beijing for more stimulus.

Dexus shares were set to lose most in 7 months, shedding 2.6% as the real estate firm flagged challenges in fiscal 2024 and swung to an annual loss.

Bucking the trend, Bapcor was the biggest gainer on ASX 200, adding 5.5% as the vehicle parts producer’s net profit after tax for fiscal 2023 came in line with brokerage Citi’s estimates.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dipped 0.9% to 11,713.87.

Shares of construction materials maker Fletcher Building fell 9.5% after its annual profit nearly halved and it warned about a decline in overall sale volumes in fiscal 2024.

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