April 5, 2018 / 3:17 AM / 21 days ago

Australia shares rise as US-China trade war fears ease; NZ lower

* Financials dominate index gains

* ANZ breaks eight-day run of losses

By Susan Mathew

April 5 (Reuters) - Australian shares joined the positive turn in global sentiment after fears of an all-out trade war abated, with the United States expressing a willingness to negotiate after China swiftly countered U.S. tariffs with its own measures.

Wall Street ended with all three indices 1 percent higher and investors turning their attention to corporate earnings.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6 percent, or 35.2 points to 5,796.6 at 0215 GMT. The benchmark had finished its previous session up 0.2 percent.

“The lead from Wall Street is what has prompted some local buying today,” said Christopher Conway, head of research and trading at Australian Stock Report.

Conway said that after China proposed its own new tariffs, market participants realised that the measures would not be in place for six months at least.

“It’s all part of the negotiating process. So Wall Street looked past those trade discussions and our markets did as well,” he said.

Banks led gains with the financial index rising 1.3 percent as the ‘Big Four’ climbed. ANZ ended an eight-day run of losses and was up 1.7 percent. Conway said ANZ had been getting towards being technically oversold.

Consumer stocks were well-bid with Treasury Wine Estates rising 2.4 percent and Wesfarmers gaining 0.8 percent. Data out on Wednesday showed that retail sales rose more than expected in March.

Commodity prices turned down with iron ore on the Dalian commodities exchange lower on Wednesday on worries of rising stock piles, while London copper closed 1.1 percent lower.

Mining major BHP was down 0.3 percent and rival Rio Tinto dropped 1.2 percent while Fortescue Metals , the world’s fourth-largest iron ore producer, was 2.4 percent lower.

Gas and electricity company AGL Energy hit its lowest in a week, dipping 1.3 percent a day after Australia’s Prime Minister urged AGL to consider Alinta Energy’s interest in buying AGL’s old coal-burning Liddell power plant in New South Wales state.

MG Unit Trust, a listed funding vehicle for Australia’s Murray Goulburn dairy co-operative, was 0.5 percent lower ahead of a shareholder vote on a takeover offer from Canada’s Saputo Inc.

The Australian competition regulator cleared the $1 billion Saputo bid for Australia’s largest dairy producer on Wednesday.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was 0.2 percent, or 16.91 points, lower at 8,381.17, after two sessions of gains.

Healthcare stocks Fisher & Paykel and Ryman Healthcare were among the biggest drags, down 0.9 percent each.

Telco Spark New Zealand weighed most on the index, down 2.2 percent, hitting a near five-month low.

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$1 = 1.2975 Australian dollars Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Ambar Warrick; Editing by Eric Meijer

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