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Australia shares slip; Newcrest down, Alumina up

MELBOURNE, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped 0.3 percent on Wednesday, with falls across the board after a weak lead from Wall Street, while gold miners fell after bullion prices eased offshore.

The local market, up 9 percent in the past three months, retreated from a 14-month high after U.S. stocks fell on worries about third-quarter earnings and the IMF cut cut its growth forecasts for a second time. .

"It has been a good run and there are sellers looking to lock in 9 or 10 percent, which will probably look pretty good over the course of the year," said Winston Sammut, investment director at Maxim Asset Management. "We're in a low-growth environment, so if you can get close to a double-digit return you might as well try to lock that in."

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 15 points to 4,490.7 by 0155 GMT. It rose 0.5 percent to 4,505.3 on Tuesday.

Major miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto eked out small gains amid signs of a revival in iron ore demand from China.

Sammut said the 4,500-level was viewed as a short-term top by some investors.

"I don't think there is currently the conviction to kick it up any further. The interest-rate cut helped ... but other than that I'm not sure what other good news there is," he said.

Australia's central bank cut rates to a three-year low earlier this month. The easing comes as companies such as Rio Tinto express caution over the outlook .

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index fell 0.8 percent to a one-week low of 3,877.4

New Zealand's budget deficit halved in the 2011/12 fiscal year but the improvement fell short of forecasts, underscoring the government's challenge of returning to surplus in three years. .

STOCKS ON THE MOVE:

* Gold producer Newcrest Mining fell 1.8 percent to A$28 after the price of the precious metal fell for a third day on worries about a global slowdown. Rival St Barbara fell 2.2 percent.

0158 GMT * Alumina rose 2.9 percent to A$0.90 after Alcoa Inc's third-quarter profit beat Wall Street's expectations . Alumina holds 40 percent of Alcoa World Alumina & Chemicals (AWAC), the world's largest alumina business, with capacity to meet nearly 20 percent of world demand. U.S.-based Alcoa owns 60 percent. 0158 GMT

* Global mining giant BHP Billiton rose 0.3 percent to A$33.56 after it made a return to the Australian bond market after an 11-year absence with a A$1 billion ($1.02 billion) five-year issue paying 90 basis points over bank bill swap rate.

0158 GMT

(Reporting by Miranda Maxwell; Editing by Richard Pullin)

((miranda.maxwell@reuters.com)(Reuters Messaging: miranda.maxwell.reuters.com@reuters.net)(+61-3 9286-1464))

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