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Jan 14 (Reuters) – Australia shares fell on Friday, poised to snap the third straight weekly gain, weighed down by tech stocks tracking a tepid overnight session at Wall Street, with materials-related sectors dragging the bourse further on weak commodity prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index (.AXJO) lost 0.6% to 7432.70 points in an all-sector sell-off by 2328 GMT. The benchmark is down 0.3% for the week so far.

All major indexes on Wall Street closed lower, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading losses after a three-day rally, amid talks signalling that the U.S. Federal Reserve would raise rates as early as in March.

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Back home, fresh COVID-19 infections continued to be at record levels. Authorities, however, were forced to ease quarantine rules for more workers as the surge drove up hospitalisation rates and added strain on supply chains. read more

Tech stocks led losses on the benchmark (.AXIJ), losing as much as 1.8% to hit their lowest mark in more than seven months, with index heavyweight Afterpay Ltd (APT.AX) falling more than 7.5% to its lowest since September 2020.

The metals and mining sub-index (.AXMM) dipped 0.5%, with iron ore majors BHP Group (BHP.AX) and Fortescue Metals (FMG.AX) down 1.3% and 1.6%, respectively.

Financial stocks (.AXFJ) dipped 0.2%, dragged by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ.AX), which lost 0.7%.

Gold miners (.AXGD) followed suit, slipping 0.4% on weaker bullion prices over uncertainty about Fed’s interest rate hikes.

Travel- and leisure-related stocks took a fall as rising coronavirus infections dampened demand. Qantas Airways (QAN.AX) fell 3.6% after the carrier decided to cut its third-quarter capacity by about a third. read more

Star Entertainment (SGR.AX) posted losses of more than 1% after Australia’s financial crime regulator expanded its money laundering probe at the company’s casino in Sydney. read more

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index (.NZ50) traded up 0.2% to 12,827 points.

Motorhomes seller Tourism Holdings Ltd (THL.NZ) added over 3.2% in its best jump since mid-December to be one of the biggest gainers on the bourse.

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Reporting by Yamini C S; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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