Australian shares fall, investors wary before US payrolls

Fri Aug 1, 2014 2:25am EDT

(Updates to close)

SYDNEY Aug 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell 1.4 percent on Friday after Wall Street tumbled overnight on fears the Federal Reserve may start its rate-tightening cycle sooner than expected, and investors were also cautious ahead of U.S. non-farm payrolls data due later.

The S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 76.5 points to 5,556.4 at the close of trade, for its biggest one-day percentage loss since March 14. The benchmark rose 4.4 percent in July.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd dropped 1.4 percent after failing to win shareholder approval to buy back $2.68 billion of its shares from Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index lost 1.1 percent, or 58.1 points, to 5,109.9. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Alan Raybould)