Australian shares extend losses on U.S.-China tensions; Afterpay soars

* Afterpay at over 2-month high

* Energy stocks decline the most

May 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell nearly 1% on Monday, extending the previous session’s sell-off, as rising trade tensions between Washington and Beijing over the coronavirus outbreak dented sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 0.9% to 5,200.4 points by 0101 GMT, pulled down by energy and financial stocks.

The benchmark tumbled 5% on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs on China in response to its handling of the pandemic.

Adding to the jitters, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday there was “a significant amount of evidence” that the new coronavirus emerged from a Chinese laboratory.

On Monday, energy stocks fell as much as 4.3%, weighed down by weaker crude prices. Cooper Energy and Whitehaven Coal were among the top drags on the sub-index, losing between 1.3% and 2.1%.

Financial stocks dropped 0.8%, with the ‘Big Four’ banks down between 0.4% and 0.7%.

Shares of Westpac Banking Corp, the country’s second-largest bank, wavered between positive and negative territory after the lender deferred a decision on its interim dividend and reported a 70% drop in first-half cash earnings.

All major sub-indexes on the Australian benchmark traded lower, except gold stocks, which soared about 5%.

Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay Ltd was the top percentage gainer in the benchmark index, surging nearly 36% after it unveiled Tencent Holdings as a shareholder at the end of last week.

The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 398 while 801 declined as a 0.5-to-1 ratio favoured decliners. There were 104 new highs and 104 new lows.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 1.41% to 10,301.5.

SkyCity Entertainment Group was poised for a second straight day of declines, while domestic shares of Westpac Banking Corp traded 4% lower. (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)