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Australia shares skid to over 5-month low on trade war anxiety; NZ down
March 26, 2018 / 5:55 AM / a month ago

Australia shares skid to over 5-month low on trade war anxiety; NZ down

* Aussie shares end at over 5-month low

* Materials, financials lead losses on ASX

* NZ falls 1 pct (Updates to close)

March 26 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed at more than five-month low on Monday, after U.S. stocks tumbled amid lingering fears a potential U.S. trade war with China could hurt global growth and corporate earnings.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.5 percent, or 30.2 points, to 5,790.5, its lowest close since Oct. 11, though the market had recovered a little from intraday losses as U.S. stock futures pushed higher after a searing sell-off the previous week.

The Australian benchmark skidded about 2 percent on Friday, and Wall Street also nosedived on that day with more than 1,000 points knocked off the Dow in two days as investors sought shelter from further losses.

Taking their cue from U.S. financials, Australia’s financials index slumped to its lowest close since November 2016, down 0.8 percent.

Banks, which accounted for most of the losses on the benchmark, have also been under pressure from a government- backed Royal Commission enquiry into misconduct by financial institutions.

The ‘Big Four’ banks lost between 0.7 percent and 1.1 percent.

Material and consumer staple stocks also contributed to losses on the index.

The metals and mining index edged down 0.4 percent on a slide in base metal and oil prices.

Chinese steel futures fell for a third straight session on Monday to their lowest in more than eight months, while oil prices reversed earlier gains, as concerns of a looming trade dispute between the United States and China weighed on global markets.

Index heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto slipped 0.6 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell nearly 1 percent, or 82.95 points, to 8,432.41, a two-week closing low.

Consumer staples, telcoms and healthcare stocks led the losses on the index.

Spark New Zealand Ltd was the biggest drag, losing over 3 percent. (Reporting by Christina Martin in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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