August 29, 2019 / 6:26 AM / 23 days ago

Australian shares edge up as risk appetites in check; NZ retreats

(Updates to close)

Aug 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares notched meagre gains on Thursday as investors held bets in the absence of major economic news, while trade frictions and fears of global recession also contained risk appetites.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.1%, or 6.8 points, at 6,507.4. It advanced 0.5% on Wednesday.

“This is a market which is in a hiatus, really looking for a catalyst to move either up or down ... we’re still very much at the mercy of tweets and data,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone.

Overall, Asian equities retreated, as global bond yields flirted with record lows, feeding recession worries. Prospects of a no-deal Brexit also weighed.

Australian gold stocks gained 0.9% amid the subdued global backdrop that boosted appeal of safe-haven assets. Newcrest Mining Ltd and Evolution Mining Ltd added 0.9% and 0.4%, respectively.

Mining services provider Ausdrill Ltd and investment services provider Link Administration were top gainers on the main index, after reporting strong annual results.

Banking stocks, which have the most weight in the benchmark, advanced 0.2%, with the “Big Four” banks gaining between 0.3% and 0.8%.

Tech stocks and lithium miners led losses.

Altura Mining Ltd, Orocobre Ltd and Galaxy Resources all fell, between 2.9% and 12.9%.

On Wednesday, China’s biggest lithium producer Ganfeng Lithium Co, reported first-half profits plunged 59% as rising supply of the material used in batteries for electric cars caused a slump in prices.

Lithium miner Alita Resources appointed administrators to restructure the company, following talks with lenders and key stakeholders.

Data centre operator NEXTDC Ltd lost 6.7%, making it one of the top decliners on the benchmark.

New Zealand’s benchmark index retreated 0.4%, or 46.1 points, to 10,580.07.

Vista Group International was the top decliner, down 29% at its worst close since January, after reporting weaker annual core earnings. (Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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