July 18, 2019 / 6:55 AM / 5 months ago

Energy, miners pull Australian shares lower, NZ up

* Energy, mining shares lead losses

* Cimic Ltd top decliner on ASX 200, down 19%

* Financials also weigh (Updates to close)

July 18 (Reuters) - Energy and commodity-related firms led losses on the Australian benchmark share index on Thursday, while renewed concerns over U.S.-China trade relations kept investor risk appetite in check.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.4% lower at 6,649.10. The benchmark rose 0.5% on Wednesday.

Oil prices steadied after initially extending the previous day’s decline when data showed U.S. stockpiles of products such as gasoline had risen sharply last week.

The energy sub-index plummeted 2.3%, with its biggest player Woodside Petroleum falling to a six-week low after reporting a 32% decline in second-quarter revenue, missing analyst forecasts by a big margin.

Australian mining shares slid as iron ore futures in China retreated from record levels after a rally in the steel-making ingredient took it to its highest since 2013. {IRONORE/]

Shares of global miner Rio Tinto were off 0.8%, while those of its larger rival BHP Group fell 1.5%.

The stock of contract miner Cimic Group plunged 19% to a more than two-year low after its first-half profit missed analyst expectations.

Meanwhile, mixed Australian jobs data released earlier in the day gave no new incentive to bet on a rate cut in the near term and renewed concerns over a lack of progress in the Sino-U.S. trade dispute kept investors wary.

Shares of the country’s top lenders were flat to 0.4% lower after credit rating firm Fitch cut its outlook for Westpac Banking Corp and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group to “negative” from “stable” on Wednesday.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed up 0.8% at 10,741.09.

The domestic energy sector comprising refiners and petroleum distributors cheered lower oil prices. New Zealand Refining Company added 1.4%, while Z Energy Ltd gained 2.1%. Utilities advanced too. (Reporting by Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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