May 21, 2019 / 1:49 AM / a month ago

Australia, NZ shares slip on growing worries over trade war escalation

* U.S. blacklist on Huawei triggers worries of trade talks fallout

* Miners, energy and tech stocks lose most

* Financials gain as APRA eases customers borrowing capacity

* Focus on RBA Governor Philip Lowe’s speech due later

By Rashmi Ashok

May 21 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped on Tuesday after a U.S. crackdown on Chinese telecom giant Huawei sent global equities tumbling, as investors worried that it could lead to an escalation in the Sino-U.S. trade war.

Australia is vulnerable to the tensions between the world’s two largest economies as it is a strong U.S. ally, and China is the biggest market for its exports, though those are largely minerals and commodities.

“There are concerns that this escalation will build into supply chains around the globe, in particular from China,” said Michael McCarthy chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 16.6 points or 0.3% to 6,459.50 by 0102 GMT. The benchmark rose 1.7% on Monday.

The United States added Huawei to a trade blacklist last week, and on Sunday Reuters, citing a source familiar with the matter, reported that U.S. tech major Alphabet Inc’s Google had suspended certain businesses with the Chinese firm.

Shrugging off record high iron ore prices, miners fell as much as 1.2% as rising trade tensions stoked worries over future demand for commodities.

Mining behemoths BHP Group and Rio Tinto fell as much as 1.2% and 2.2%, respectively. The smaller Fortescue Metals Group fell as much as 3.7%.

Rising oil prices failed to offset the mood of uncertainty, with energy stocks slipping 1.3%. Beach Energy shed 3.4% while sector heavyweight Woodside Petroleum lost 1.5%.

Technology stocks took a battering, falling as much as 3.2% after U.S. peers plunged overnight. Afterpay Touch Group lost 4% while Altium fell 1.2%.

Bucking the trend, gold stocks rose nearly 1%, as the safe-haven gold prices got a bump from rattled stock markets. Northern Star Resources and Evolution Mining both rose over 1% each.

Financial stocks rose after the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) proposed dropping requirements for banks to use a minimum 7% interest rate when assessing a borrower’s ability to service a loan, which it said would increase customers’ maximum borrowing capacity.

“This represents a material easing in the credit constraint facing households. It is possible that APRA’s policy change is seen as lessening the need for near-term interest rates,” ANZ said in a note.

“An alternative take is that the change will enhance the power of a rate cut and so make one more likely,” it added.

Top lender Commonwealth bank of Australia rose 0.6% while Westpac Banking Corp gained 1.8%.

Focus will turn towards Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe’s speech due later in the day, with investors looking for clues on the timing of an expected interest rate cut.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 12.24 points or 0.1% to 10,221.91.

Synlait Milk shed 1.4% while dairy giant a2 Milk Company lost 0.6%.

Reporting by Rashmi Ashok and Shanima A in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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