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Australia shares finish flat as China PMI weighs

(Updates to close)

SYDNEY, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares finished flat on Monday, after data showing that while China's manufacturing sector had improved somewhat in September, it remained in contraction, heightening investors' worries about weak global economic growth.

China's official factory purchasing managers' index improved to 49.8 in September from 49.2 in August, but stayed below the 50 line that points to contraction.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index

inched up 1.6 points to 4,388.6, according to the latest data. The benchmark picked up 0.1 percent on Friday, for an overall 7.1 percent gain in the third quarter.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index

finished 0.1 percent, or 4.1 points lower to to 3,830.

(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Kim Coghill)

((thuy.ong@thomsonreuters.com)(+61 2 9373 1236))

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