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Australia shares retreat on lower regional growth forecasts

* S&P/ASX 200 index down 14.7 points to 4,490.7

* Newcrest Mining slips 1.3 percent as bullion weakens

* Miners buoyed as iron ore price extends gains

MELBOURNE, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Australian shares pulled back from 14-month highs on Wednesday as lower growth forecasts for China and other regional economies by the International Monetary Fund wiped off gains made by miners on higher iron ore prices.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index

lost 0.3 percent to close at 4,490.7 points, according to the latest available data. On Tuesday, the index gained 0.5 percent.

The IMF said earlier this week that China's economic growth is expected to weaken to 7.8 percent this year and warned of risks to emerging Asia if the euro zone crisis worsens and the United States does not avoid its "fiscal cliff".

China is Australia's top export market for resources, which on Wednesday received a boost after the benchmark iron ore

climbed 6 percent to the highest level since Aug. 1, . Miners and BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto both ended a touch higher.

"Recent sharp rises in the price of iron ore stood the bellwether miners in good stead, and this was able to have an offsetting affect to a degree on the negative sentiment stemming from the IMF downgrades which adversely affected the broader market," said Tim Waterer, trader at CMC Markets.

Worries about weak corporate earnings, which led to a fall in U.S. stocks overnight, also weighed on the Australian bourse which has been up 9 percent over the past three months.

"It has been a good run and there are sellers looking to lock in 9 or 10 percent. 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," said Winston Sammut, investment director at Maxim Asset Management.

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," he said.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index

fell 0.5 percent to 3,888.1

New Zealand's budget deficit improvement fell short of forecasts, underscoring the government's challenge of returning to surplus in three years.

.

Gold producer Newcrest Mining

fell 1.3 percent to A$28.12 after the price of the precious metal fell for a third day on worries about a global slowdown. Rival St Barbara

fell 2.3 percent. Alumina rose 2.3 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. U.S.-based Alcoa owns 60 percent.

Woodside Petroleum rose 1.6 percent to A$34.10 after oil prices rose offshore.

(Reporting by Miranda Maxwell; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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

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