September 3, 2018 / 2:42 AM / 2 months ago

Australian shares tepid on lingering trade worries; NZ down

* Trade tensions hit commodity prices, weighing on material stocks

* More banks expected to raise mortgage rates

* Fisher & Paykel drags NZ shares lower

By Nikhil Nainan

Sept 3 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged higher in subdued trade on Monday as growing worries of a further escalation of the U.S.-China trade war checked investor sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index added 4.9 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,324.4 by 0200 GMT. The benchmark fell half a percent on Friday.

Financial stocks were little changed, with Bendigo and Adelaide Bank weighing on the sector, down 3.7 percent.

Local media reported that Adelaide Bank and Suncorp Group raised mortgage rates on Friday, which follows the country’s number two lender Westpac Banking’s decision to raise rates last week.

It now lays open the prospect for other major banks, including the remaining Big Four, which together control about 80 percent of Australia’s deposit and home loan markets, to follow suit.

Suncorp was 0.6 percent lower, while Australia and New Zealand Banking was the only Big Four bank in the red, down 0.5 percent.

In the resource space, persistent uncertainty about the state of global trade weighed on commodity prices, which in turn hurt material stocks.

Christopher Conway, head of research and trading at Australian Stock Report, said global trade tensions “would be affecting demand for commodities.”

U.S. President Donald Trump said last week he is ready to slap duties on another $200 billion worth of Chinese imports as soon as a public comment period on the plan ends on Thursday, which would be a major escalation after the imposition of tariffs on $50 billion of exports from China in July.

Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group fell 0.9 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively.

On the winning ledger, Northern Star Resources surged to a record high, up as much as 18 percent, after it raised its gold output guidance for the 2019 financial year.

The miner’s gains helped push the sector index 2.2 percent, despite weaker gold prices.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slid 0.6 percent, or 53.34 points to 9,260.42, with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp topping the losses.

The medical device firm cut its fiscal 2019 profit net profit guidance, taking into consideration the legal costs associated with its patent battle with ResMed Inc. It fell about 5 percent on the news.

Restaurant Brands New Zealand dropped 0.8 percent, after announcing it would not renew its license deal with Starbucks Corp when it expires in October. It also sold fixed assets and stock related to the deal to Tahua Capital for NZ$4.4 million ($2.9 million). For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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