* Caution returns to ASX after Monday’s sharp rise
* Metcash Ltd top decliner on main index
* Industrial and healthcare stocks boost NZX
By Devika Syamnath
Dec 4 (Reuters) - Australian equities weakened on Tuesday, giving up some of the previous session’s exuberant gains, when global equities hailed a 90-day ceasefire in the US-China trade war that had sapped confidence in risk assets.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.5 percent or 28.9 points to 5,742.3 by 0054 GMT, after a 1.8 percent leap on Monday.
“The fear across global markets is that this is just a short-term relief rally, and we will find ourselves back where we were a few weeks ago staring down the barrel of a long-term global growth slowdown,” Nick Twidale, Sydney-based analyst at Rakuten Securities Australia, said in a note.
“The euphoria subsides and you’ve got more rational decision making in markets, particularly this week where we have a lot of risk events coming up,” said Kyle Rodda, market analyst at IG Markets.
Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP) report for the September quarter is due on Wednesday. The median forecast from a Reuters poll of economists found economic growth was likely 0.6 percent last quarter, leaving the annual rate at 3.3 percent. Additionally U.S. payroll data, a key measure of economic vibrancy, is due later this week and may in turn influence the pace of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes. Losses in bank stocks hit the financial index, which declined up to 0.6 percent. The ‘Big Four’ banks showed losses ranging from 0.4 to 0.8 percent.
Food and hardware retailer Metcash Ltd was the biggest decliner on the main index, extending the losses it took on Monday after flagging an earnings hit.
Other consumer stocks such as Wesfarmers and Woolworths fell as much as 2.7 percent and 1 percent, respectively.
Miners were 0.6 percent lower at 0135 GMT. Global mining heavyweight Rio Tinto lost as much as 1.3 percent.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.3 percent at 8,898.94 at 0040 GMT, boosted by industrial and healthcare stocks.
Shares of Synlait Milk Ltd and Fletcher Building Ltd, up as much as 7.1 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively led gains on the main index.
Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru, editing by Eric Meijer