Australia shares end lower as tech selloff stokes growth worries; NZ down

[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended slightly lower on Friday as strong gains for miners were tempered by a cocktail of negative factors including a tech selloff and Brexit turmoil.

The latest grim news for the tech sector, which has been under pressure in the US over the past several weeks on earnings worries, came overnight on disappointing results from US chipmaker Nvidia Corp which hammered its stock and triggered a wider selloff.

The S&P/ASX 200 index eased 0.09 per cent or 5.4 points to 5,730.6 at the close, bringing the weekly losses to a sizeable 3.23 per cent, largely hurt by global growth worries.

Turmoil in British politics also cast a cloud over markets as UK Prime Minister Theresa May's draft divorce deal that would see Britain leave the European Union came unstuck after key ministers quit her cabinet.

A 2.1 per cent rise in Dalian iron ore futures and an uptick in most base metals including copper helped Australian metals and miners tack on 1 per cent.

Global miner BHP rose 1 per cent while rival Rio Tinto Ltd added 1.9 per cent.

However, these gains could not overcome losses elsewhere including in financials, healthcare and industrials.

"Australia isn't prone to the kind of pressure that a stock like Nvidia would normally place on more tech based markets in Asia... but there's some volatility and caution because there's a full trading day left in the US," said Greg McKenna, founder of McKenna Macro.

Financial stocks shed early gains to close slightly lower, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia up just 0.1 per cent while National Australia Bank Ltd shed 0.5 per cent.

Healthcare stocks also weakened, with sector heavyweight CSL Ltd shedding 0.3 per cent and Cochlear Ltd dropping 0.4 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index shed 0.18 per cent or 16.19 points to finish the session at 8,809.70. The benchmark lost 1.4 per cent across the week.

Air New Zealand Ltd lost 1.8 per cent while dairy giant a2 Milk Ltd gained 0.3 per cent.


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