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Australia: Shares dip as investors brace tariff deadline; New Zealand rises

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares dipped on Tuesday as investors maintained a cautious stance ahead of a looming tariff deadline, though gains in iron ore miners helped limit losses on the bourse.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.2 per cent, or 15.9 points, at 6,714.10, as of 0147 GMT. The bourse closed 0.3 per cent firmer on Monday.

Investors were cautious ahead of the Dec 15 deadline, when the next round of US tariffs on Chinese goods is expected to take effect, anticipating some resolution to a bruising 17-month trade war that has damaged global demand and growth.

Markets are in a wait-and-watch mode, said James Tao, market analyst at CommSec, as they await headlines from either party.

A slew of economic events are also on the calendar this week, with the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank due to hold their policy meetings.

Iron ore miners were the biggest gainers in the index as prices of the steel-making ingredient jumped overnight, buoyed by anticipation that top consumer China could introduce more stimulus measures to shore up its economy, driving the mining sub-index up 0.6 per cent.

Major miners BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd gained between 0.8 per cent and 1 per cent.

The country's third-biggest lender National Australia Bank Ltd fell up to 1.7 per cent as brokerage Morgan Stanley cut the bank's price target on expectations of further capital raising and an another dividend cut in fiscal 2020.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia slipped 0.3 per cent, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group was down 0.7 per cent.

Australia's banking regulator on Monday said it would allow wealth manager IOOF Holdings to hold controlling stakes in superannuation licenses currently owned by ANZ. IOOF shares rose as much as 5.8 per cent to their highest in more than a year.

Energy units fell 0.5 per cent as oil prices slipped overnight on concerns about global demand.

Oil Search declined 0.8 per cent and Beach Energy fell 0.4 per cent.

Petroleum retailer Viva Energy Group extended declines as it flagged lower annual earnings on Monday due to fuel-margin pressures.

In neighbouring New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged up 0.2 per cent, or 26.53 points, to 11,256.12.

Dairy firm a2 Milk gained 1.9 per cent, while teleco Spark New Zealand slipped 1.4 per cent. 

REUTERS