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Australia shares post first weekly loss in three as bond yields spike

* Benchmark ends about 1% lower for the week

* Energy stocks lose most in a month

* BHP, Rio post third straight weekly loss (Updates to close)

March 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended lower on Friday to post their first weekly loss in three as a spike in U.S. bond yields hurt risk appetite globally, while weak commodity prices prompted heavy selling in domestic energy and mining stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.6% to close trade at 6,708.2 points. The benchmark shed 0.9% for the week.

Dampening risk appetite further was data that showed retail sales fell unexpectedly in February as COVID-19 lockdowns in Victoria and Western Australia shut shops and took some steam out of an otherwise strongly expanding economy.

However, despite the blimp in February, the outlook for retail trade remains strong, Citi Research analysts wrote in a note. “Ongoing vaccinations, continued recovery in the labour market and better news globally around the pandemic will likely buttress consumer sentiment over the coming months.”

Australia shares tracked the overnight slump in Wall Street after the Nasdaq tumbled 3%, hurt by rising Treasury yields and fresh worries about the pandemic in Europe.

Energy stocks were the biggest drag in the index, dropping up to 3.5%, after oil prices slumped.

Sector heavyweight Woodside Petroleum was down 3.3%, the biggest loser in the sub-index, followed by Santos that lost 2.5%.

Miners lost 1.8% as copper prices declined on strengthening dollar and high U.S. Treasury yields, while iron ore futures slumped over prospects of further output cuts in top Chinese steelmaking city of Tangshan.

BHP Group and Rio Tinto declined up to 2.3% and 1.9%, respectively, and also posted their third straight weekly loss.

Newcrest Mining slumped to its worst session in two weeks after the gold miner said it is assessing implications of the two-week travel suspension between Papua New Guinea and Australia.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.2% higher to finish the session at 12,515.2 points. (Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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