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Australia shares close lower on Wall St's tech selloff; NZ also down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell on Tuesday, after a selloff in tech stocks dragged Wall Street, though they managed to pare majority of the losses as financials and miners notched surprise gains late in the day.

Global stocks shuddered after US tech stocks came under heavy selling on Monday, burdened by worries on slackening demand, while conflicting signals between the United States and China on their trade dispute added to caution.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.38 per cent or 21.90 points to 5,671.80 at the close. On Monday, the benchmark dropped 0.6 per cent.

The technology index tumbled 3 per cent, with sector heavyweights Computershare Ltd and Xero Ltd down 1.6 per cent and 5.4 per cent, respectively.

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Australia's healthcare sector, which has large exposure to US markets, recorded steep losses. CSL Ltd slumped 3.6 per cent and Ramsay Health Care Ltd slipped 0.9 per cent.

Energy stocks weakened 1.1 per cent to close at a seven-month low, after oil prices slipped on a deteriorating economic outlook and a surge in US production.

Woodside Petroleum Ltd tumbled 1 per cent, while Santos Ltd slid 2.1 per cent.

Bucking the trend, financial stocks made a U-turn to close 0.5 per cent higher, reducing losses by the benchmark.

All "Big Four" banks reversed losses to end higher, with Westpac Banking Corp gaining 1.3 per cent and National Australia Bank firming 1.1 per cent.

"It's a risk mitigation model that's kicked in... global investors reallocate money out of emerging markets into Australia," said Mathan Somasundaram, market portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean Equities.

Late gains in global miner BHP and rival Rio Tinto Ltd helped the metals and mining index reverse course to edge up.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.83 per cent or 72.63 points to finish the session at 8,720.30.

Fletcher Building Ltd was the top percentage loser on the kiwi benchmark, plunging 10.8 percent to a nine-year low after providing lower earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) guidance for 2019, due to a slowdown in the residential market.

REUTERS