* Westpac, Fortescue push benchmark lower
* Healthcare sector comes off record high hit in last session
* NZ up ahead of rate decision (Updates to close)
By Nikhil Subba
Nov 12 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped on Tuesday, with the financial sector leading losses, as appetite for riskier assets waned following U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments over the weekend on the pace of trade negotiations with China.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended down 0.3%, or 19.5 point, to 6,753.00. The benchmark rose 0.7% on Monday to a more than three-month closing high.
On Saturday, Trump said trade talks with China had moved at a slower pace than expected and that there had been incorrect reporting about U.S. willingness to lift tariffs, which also dampened sentiment in Wall Street overnight.
The focus on trade talks led domestic markets to shrug off positive growth figures from a closely watched measure of Australian business conditions, which edged higher in October.
The financial sub-index, which comprises the lion’s share in the Australian benchmark, ended 0.5% lower, with two of the ‘Big Four’ banks closing the session in negative territory.
“The big weight on the market today is Westpac and that’s because it is trading ex-dividend...Westpac on its own wiped out about 13 points from the ASX 200,” said Steven Daghlian, market analyst at CommSec.
Australia’s No. 2 lender Westpac Banking Corp was among top drags on the main index, falling 3.5% to a one-week low.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia reported a near 10% drop in first-quarter cash profit and said margin pressure from record-low interest rates would persist. However, its shares rose about 1% to a more than two-week high.
Mining stocks slipped 0.2% as iron ore prices dipped due to softening demand.
“There is some cautiousness in China and weaker demand for iron ore...We’re getting to the time of the year now where policymakers start to impose restrictions on steel mills to limit pollution in Northern China,” Daghlian said.
Iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group Ltd shed 2.1%, while heavyweight BHP Group slipped 0.2%.
Healthcare stocks came off a record high in the previous session to end almost 1% lower, with shares of CSL Ltd dropping 1.5%.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged marginally higher to close the session at 10,926.31, ahead of a central bank policy meeting on Nov. 13 over interest rates.
Most economists are expecting New Zealand’s central bank to cut rates to a record low at its last monetary policy decision of the year on Wednesday, after the bank signaled in recent months it was willing to ramp up stimulus if necessary to combat slowing economic conditions. (Reporting by Nikhil Subba, additional reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)