Australia shares slip; Newcrest down, Alumina up

MELBOURNE, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped 0.3percent on Wednesday, with falls across the board after a weaklead from Wall Street, while gold miners fell after bullionprices 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 worriesabout third-quarter earnings and the IMF cut cut its growthforecasts for a second time. .

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

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 15 points to4,490.7 by 0155 GMT. It rose 0.5 percent to 4,505.3 on Tuesday.

Major miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tintoeked out small gains amid signs of a revival in iron ore demandfrom China.

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

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

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

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

New Zealand's budget deficit halved in the 2011/12 fiscalyear but the improvement fell short of forecasts, underscoringthe government's challenge of returning to surplus in threeyears. .


* Gold producer Newcrest Mining fell 1.8 percent toA$28 after the price of the precious metal fell for a third dayon worries about a global slowdown. Rival St Barbarafell 2.2 percent.

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

* Global mining giant BHP Billiton rose 0.3 percentto A$33.56 after it made a return to the Australian bond marketafter 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)

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