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REFILE-Australian shares end near 1-month lows, dire GDP data eyed

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* RBA holds rates, extends term funding facility

* Financials slip to near-1-month low

* NZX website down after string of cyber attacks

Sept 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed at their lowest in nearly a month on Tuesday, ahead of dire economic data that could reveal the severity of damage from COVID-19, with support from the central bank failing to calm investors.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 1.8% lower at 5,953.4.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) held rates and planned an increase in the size of its term funding facility to around A$200 billion ($148.18 billion) for three years.

The RBA also hinted at further support ahead of Wednesday’s second-quarter GDP data announcement, which could confirm Australia’s first recession in three decades.

“I think investors are bracing themselves in anticipation of more bad news in the form of GDP, with no real direction from the RBA,” said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking.

Heavyweight financials shed 2.3%, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp being the biggest drags.

Santos and Woodside Petroleum fell 3.7% and 2.9%, respectively. The energy index also dropped.

Qantas lost 1.3% after saying it had issued A$500 million of unsecured bonds to help strengthen liquidity and replace maturing debt.

Gold stocks were the sole gainers as the bullion rose on U.S. dollar weakness.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped 1.2% to 11,793.16.

NZX’s website was down after cyber attacks on the stock exchange operator over the last week, although trading continued uninterrupted.

Chief Executive Officer of Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand Craig Young called the attacks “unprecedented” and said this should be a wake-up call for financial institutions to stay on top of security.

Also highlighting the severity of the issue, Rizwan Asghar, senior lecturer, school of computer science at the University of Auckland said, “studies show even small delays in page loading can lead to loss in revenues.” ($1 = 1.3497 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Arpit Nayak in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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