Australian shares fall, miners drag on metal prices

Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:27am EDT

(Updates to close)
    SYDNEY, March 12 (Reuters) - Australia's benchmark index
lost 0.6 percent on Tuesday weighed down by weaker metal prices
for top miners and data showing a drop in business confidence
and activity in February.  
    A monthly survey of more than 500 firms by National
Australia Bank NAB.AX found firms complaining of weakness in
profits and forward orders, though there was some improvement in
hiring intentions.
    The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 29 points to 5,117.9,
according to the latest data. The index rose 0.5 percent on
Monday.
    Blue chip miners Rio Tinto lost 1.9 percent while
BHP Billiton Ltd fell 0.4 percent.
    New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index closed the
session 0.3 percent or 12.2 points up at an all-time high of
4,378.8.

 (Reporting by Thuy Ong and Michael Sin; Editing by Sanjeev
Miglani)
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