March 15, 2019 / 5:49 AM / 5 months ago

Australian shares weaker as Sino-U.S. trade woes hit miners; NZ up

* Financial index falls for sixth session

* NZ shares gain for 6th straight week (Updates to close)

March 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged lower on Friday as fresh concerns about a U.S.-China trade deal hit commodity prices and mining stocks while financials extended their recent declines.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.1 percent lower at 6,175.20. The benchmark snapped three weeks of gains to decline 0.5 percent this week.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said the summit to seal the deal between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will not happen at the end of March as previously discussed.

Mining stocks lost 1.3 percent as Shanghai nickel fell nearly 2 percent and copper extended losses in early trade on Friday after hopes dimmed of reaching an agreement to resolve the long-drawn trade war soon.

The trade dispute has taken a toll on the slowing Chinese economy, which is a major cause of concern for Australia, which relies heavily on China for its raw materials exports.

Global miner BHP Group Ltd slipped 1.8 percent, while Fortescue Metals Group Ltd was down 1.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the gold stocks snapped two weeks of losses to rise 2.2 percent this week. The index fell 2.1 percent on Friday.

The financial sector pared some of its earlier losses but fell for a sixth straight session. The index declined 1.2 percent this week.

Weighing on the index, lender Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd faltered 1 percent after Morgan Stanley downgraded its rating to “underweight” from “equal-weight”.

Peers Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp fell 0.9 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.

In other sectors, the energy sub-index rose 0.6 percent as oil prices firmed after a supply deficit emerged amid disruptions.

Index heavyweight Woodside Petroleum Ltd advanced 0.9 percent and Caltex Australia Ltd added 1.6 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed up 0.4 percent, or 37.77 points, to 9,473.27. The benchmark gained for a sixth straight week.

Auckland International Airport Ltd rose 1.8 percent and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp Ltd ended up 0.5 percent.

However, dairy giant Fonterra fell 1.8 percent on Friday after it cut its milk collection output for 2018/2019 for a second time this year. (Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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