Australia shares slip on Wall St woes, safe-haven buying in gold caps losses

Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:32pm EDT

* S&P/ASX 200 slips 0.4 pct after hitting near 6-year high last week

* Index heavyweight banking and mining stocks all lower

* Safe-haven buying in gold stocks buoy market from steeper losses (Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

By Thuy Ong

SYDNEY, April 14 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped 0.5 percent on Monday as investors remained wary of last week's sharp tech-driven selloff on Wall Street, though a safety-bid for gold miners helped to contain broad market losses.

Banking and mining stocks tugged the market lower. National Australia Bank slipped 0.5 percent, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group shed 0.4 percent.

Miners BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd lost 0.3 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively, after Shanghai rebar futures fell for a third day on Friday on concern Chinese demand may ease in line with a slowing economy. China is Australia's largest export market.

The S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 29.3 points to 5,399.4 by 0226 GMT.

The ASX 200 touched 5,503.5 last week, its highest point since June 2008, mainly underpinned by solid Australian economic data and corporate activity. On Friday, the benchmark lost 1 percent, underscoring worries of a deeper pullback in U.S. stocks.

"It's largely driven by offshore markets," said Tim Radford, global investment manager at Rivkin Securities in Sydney.

U.S. stocks slid in a volatile session on Friday, with the Nasdaq closing below the 4,000 mark for the first time since early February.

"Even though the Australian market has little exposure to the tech driven sell-off from the States, it's also led to a risk-off move across most asset classes, which has led to some downside to the Aussie market," Radford said.

Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd tumbled 5.1 percent, as investors continued to dump the stock after the food and beverage company issued a profit warning last week, pushing it near 5-year lows of A$9.24.

Gold jumped to a three-week high, helping to support the market somewhat, as mounting geopolitical tensions in Ukraine curbed investor appetite for risk. Newcrest Mining Ltd added 0.5 percent, while Resolute Mining Ltd rose 0.8 percent.

Australia's largest telecommunications provider Telstra Corporation Ltd gained 0.5 percent.

Horizon Oil Ltd soared 4.6 percent to six-week highs of A$0.34 on news that Papua New Guinea had approved its Stanley gas condensate development project.

Liquefied Natural Gas bounced 6.8 percent after the company signed a technical services agreement with SKEC Group to help in engineering and construction work at its Magnolia LNG Project in Louisiana.

New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index shed 0.6 percent to 5,061.2.

(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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