Australia shares fall on US worries, set to snap 7 straight weekly gains
(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY Oct 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell 0.5 percent on Friday Morning, as investors worried that political brinkmanship in Washington could have more serious consequences for the world's largest economy.
Caution was the buzzword in markets as traders, wrong-footed by the U.S. Federal Reserve's unexpected decision last month to delay tapering its massive stimulus, fretted that the budget stalemate in Congress would make for another volatile period for riskier assets.
The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 25.3 points to 5,209.6 by 0145 GMT. It's so far down 1.9 percent for the week, on track to snap seven weeks of consecutive gains.
The benchmark rose 0.4 percent on Thursday and has been trading sideways for most of the week, hovering around the 5,200 mark after a slump from five-year highs on Monday.
The market took its lead from Wall Street's fall on worries that a political impasse in Washington, which has led to a third day of a partial U.S. government shutdown, would become entangled with much more critical legislation to raise the federal borrowing limit.
"Obviously the U.S. is leading all of the sentiment at the moment with the shutdown, so we're down across the board," said Chris Tynan, a dealer at Arnhem Investment Management.
Blue-chip mining and financial stocks led the fall, snapping two sessions of gains.
BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd lost 1.5 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively, as copper prices fell overnight on persistent concerns about over-supply.
The two miners have posted an average loss of 7 percent so far this year, hurt by weak metals prices and fears about slowing growth in Australia's top export market China. The broader index is up 12 percent for the year.
Among the big four banks, National Australia Bank fell 0.8 percent while Westpac Banking Corp slipped 0.5 percent.
A handful of gold miners helped to contain the broader losses after bullion rose on softer U.S. services data. Top Australian gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd tacked on 0.5 percent while Regis Resources Ltd climbed 1.5 percent.
Shares in Cokal Ltd jumped 4.6 percent just before a trading halt. The trading halt came as Cokal's new stakeholder, Singapore-listed conglomerate Blumont Group Ltd , said it had agreed to terms for a proposed takeover of a "foreign-listed coal mining company" for up to about S$145.9 million.
Leighton Holdings Ltd extended its slump from the previous session, losing 3 percent to A$17.02, a 5-week low, after the company came under fire from media reports of corruption and bribery.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index slipped 0.2 percent or 11.4 points to 4,758.8.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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