Australia shares edge lower after RBA comments, Fed outcome eyed

Wed Dec 18, 2013 12:28am EST

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    SYDNEY, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped 0.1
percent on Wednesday after the head of the central bank
indicated there was no urgent need to cut interest rates and as
investors anxiously awaited the outcome of the U.S. Federal
Reserve meeting due later in the day.
    The S&P/ASX 200 index inched down 7.1 points to
5,096.1. The benchmark has taken a beating in recent weeks,
having fallen about 7 percent from a 5-1/2-year high of 5,457.3
hit on Oct. 28, as profit forecast downgrades and fears over
early Fed tapering hit local sentiment.
    In his twice-yearly parliamentary testimony, Reserve Bank of
Australia Governor Glenn Stevens hinted there was no pressing
need to lower rates further in the near term, but also said the
bank was prepared to cut further if sensible and needed.
  
    New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 1.1
percent to 4,675.9.

 (Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang; Editing by Chris Gallagher)
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