September 2, 2019 / 6:22 AM / 14 days ago

Australia shares end down as new U.S.-China tariffs trigger caution

(Updates to close)

Sept 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares, led by energy stocks, edged lower on Monday, with investors unsettled by the latest blows traded by the United States and China in their tariff war.

The “level of trust from both sides has deteriorated substantially following rounds of tariff escalation,” Mizuho analysts said in a note to clients.

The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.4% to 6,579.40 at the close of trade, following a 1.5% climb on Friday.

The energy index dropped a percent as the heightened trade war tensions hit oil prices, due to concerns that demand for crude will suffer if global growth slows.

Oil and gas heavyweights Santos and Woodside Petroleum slipped about 1% each at close, while Oil Search ended the session about 1.4% lower.

Financial stocks ended about 0.3% lower, with three of the “big four” lenders trading down.

Bucking the trend, miners advanced as nickel prices rose after Indonesia, the world’s biggest supplier of nickel ore, said it would accelerate a ban on mineral ore exports by two years from an original target date of 2022.

Iron ore miners also benefited as iron ore futures jumped nearly 6 percent to hit a two-week high, fuelled by firm short-term demand after Beijing vowed to provide more support for China’s economy.

Australian nickel sulphide explorer West Areas Ltd, one of the top gainers on the benchmark index, close at a near one year high.

Rio Tinto, one of the world’s largest miners, rose more than a percent to close at a near three-week high.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index finished 0.4% higher at 10,800.00, buoyed by Ryman Healthcare and Contact Energy’s about 3% gain. (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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