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Australian shares fell on Wednesday, dragged down by mining and gold stocks on weak underlying commodity prices, while caution set in ahead of a local inflation report that could offer more clues about the central bank’s monetary policy path.

The S&P/ASX 200 index declined 0.4% to 7,493.4 by 0004 GMT.

The benchmark rose 0.9% on Tuesday. Investors were awaiting Australia’s weighted annual consumer price inflation rate due later in the day, which is expected to have fallen sharply in November to 4.4% from 4.9%.

This would be the lowest in almost two years, and would follow an even steeper fall the month before to 4.9% from 5.6%.

Aussie swaps markets are pricing in around 50 basis points of rate cuts from the Reserve Bank of Australia this year and a weaker-than-expected inflation print could further bolster hopes of monetary policy easing.

In Sydney, miners led the losses, dropping 1.9% in what could be their worst session since Dec. 5, 2023.

Iron ore futures dropped on Tuesday as Chinese steelmakers remained cautious on pre-holiday restocking amid lacklustre steel demand. Mining behemoths BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue slipped between 2.2% and 1.9%.

Gold stocks skidded 1.8%, hitting their lowest level since Dec. 14, 2023. Northern Star Resources, Australia’s top gold miner, Genesis Minerals, Evolution Mining dropped between 1.7% and 1.3%.

Australian shares rise more than 1% on mining, financial boost

Rate-sensitive financials declined 0.2%, with the ‘big four’ banks falling between 0.2% and 0.3%.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.3% to 11,808.8.

Mercury NZ, Vulcan Steel and Investore Prop topped losses on the benchmark, shedding 2.6%, 2.1% and 1.7%, respectively.

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