August 29, 2019 / 3:15 AM / 3 months ago

Australian shares listless as major catalysts missing, NZ inches down

* Lithium miners among top losers on benchmark

* Link Administration, Ausdrill top gainers after solid results

* NZ’s Vista Group on track for worst day after weak core earnings

By Devika Syamnath

Aug 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares were subdued on Thursday, as a dearth of major economic catalysts held most investors back from making big moves.

At 0233 GMT, the S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.1%, or 6.6 points, to 6,494. It climbed 0.5% on Wednesday.

“This is a market which is in a hiatus, really looking for a catalyst to move either up or down ... we’re still very much at the mercy of tweets and data,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone.

World markets have long been sensitive to U.S.-China trade war updates from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Twitter platform, but Weston said markets have moved on from placing too much stock in tweets such as “talks are progressing”.

“We’re not getting anyplace, markets realise that,” he said.

The Trump administration on Wednesday made official its extra 5% tariff on $300 billion in Chinese imports and set collection dates of Sept. 1 and Dec. 15.

China is Australia’s biggest trade partner. The largest Australian export to China is natural resources.

Australian lithium miners Altura Mining Ltd, Orocobre Ltd and Galaxy Resources all fell, at one point being down between 2.5% and 11.8%.

On Wednesday, China’s biggest lithium producer Ganfeng Lithium Co reported first-half profits plunged 59% as rising supply of the material used in batteries for electric cars caused a slump in prices.

Tech stocks fell after steep gains in six out of the last eight sessions. Data centre operator NEXTDC Ltd swung to an annual loss and was among top losers on the benchmark.

Shares of Australia’s largest supermarket operator Woolworths Ltd fell as much as 2.2%, as investors shrugged off positives from its annual results to focus on uncertainty whether there can be sustainable recovery in consumer demand.

Infant formula maker Bellamy’s Australia was among top losers on the benchmark, extending falls to a second session after it reported disappointing annual results and outlook.

Mining services provider Ausdrill Ltd and investment services provider Link Administration were top gainers on the main index, after reporting stellar annual results.

Link added as much as 13% to head for its best session since listing.

New Zealand’s benchmark index inched down 0.1%, or 10.94 points, to 10,618.51.

Vista Group International Ltd was the biggest decliner, down as much as 28.2% after reporting weaker annual core earnings. (Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Rashmi Ashok)

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