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Coal

Australia shares end lower as banks drag on tighter regulations

* “Big Four” banks drop between 0.8% and 2%

* Technology stocks track Wall Street higher

* RBNZ hikes benchmark rate by 25 basis points (Updates to close)

Oct 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended lower on Wednesday as heavyweight banks slipped on tighter lending regulations, while technology stocks tracked overnight gains on Wall Street.

The S&P/ASX 200 index pared early gains to close 0.6% lower at 7,206.5. The benchmark settled down 0.4% on Tuesday.

Australia’s banking regulator on Wednesday tightened restrictions on home lending and flagged possible further action, saying rapid loan growth that has fed a surge in housing prices poses a risk to financial stability.

“The financial stocks seem to have borne the brunt of the prudential regulator’s decision to raise loan serviceability rates,” said Kunal Sawhney, CEO of Kalkine Group.

Financials dropped 0.9%, with the “Big Four” banks dropping between 0.8% and 2%.

Technology stocks, however, saw gains as Microsoft and Apple spearheaded a strong rebound in growth stocks on Wall Street.

Buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay closed 3% higher, while software solution provider TechnologyOne Ltd added 1.7%.

Energy stocks also rose, underpinned by strong oil prices.

Shares of Whitehaven Coal Ltd, Yancoal Australia and New Hope Corp closed near mid-2019 highs, as coal prices soared on supply struggles to catch up with demand, particularly in top consumer China.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.3% lower at 13,166.44.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand hiked interest rates for the first time in seven years and signalled further tightening to come, as it looks to get on top of inflationary pressures and cool its red-hot housing market. (Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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