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Australia: Shares drop weighed by gold stocks; New Zealand down

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Australian shares fell on Monday with gold stocks dragging as investors pull back and await definitive details on the "phase one" trade deal between the United States and China.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell on Monday with gold stocks dragging as investors pull back and await definitive details on the "phase one" trade deal between the United States and China.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was set to snap two sessions of gains sliding 0.5 per cent or 36.3 points to 6,757.80 by 0113 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.9 per cent on Friday.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Thursday that the United States and China were getting close to a trade agreement, citing what he called very constructive talks with Beijing, which helped spark a rally among global markets on Friday.

"It's just words for now," said Steven Daghlian, a market analyst at CommSec, referring to the upbeat comments on Thursday. "But the (local) market might need another positive catalyst or two before being able to track higher very decisively."

The market is also awaiting the minutes from the central bank due to be released on Tuesday for any signs of a pause to its rate reduction.

Financial stocks erased all of their gains in the previous session to drop about 0.6 per cent.

Shares of National Australia Bank dropped 0.7 per cent. The country's third largest lender is looking to raise A$1.4 billion (S$1.3 billion) through the issue of medium-term notes to help beef up its capital ahead of a regulatory deadline.

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp also dropped 0.7 per cent and 0.8 per cent, respectively.

Gold stocks dropped 1.6 per cent after adding over 2 per cent in the past two sessions amid weakness in the bullion.

The sub-index was mainly dragged down by shares of Oceanagold Corp which fell 12.2 per cent, set to record its worst session in over four months.

The precious metal sector also witnessed a sizeable deal on Monday when Saracen Mineral Holdings Ltd said it would buy Canadian-listed Barrick Gold Corp's 50 per cent stake in the Super Pit gold mine in Western Australia for US$750 million. Shares of the company were on a trading halt. [

Meanwhile, Tech stocks were set to snap a seven day winning streak, shedding 0.6 per cent.

Shares of Afterpay Touch Group and Link Administration Holdings shed 3 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively.

Shares of Appen Ltd gained 10.1 per cent, however, after it raised its full year EBITDA guidance and was the top gainer on the Australian benchmark index.

Healthcare stocks also edged lower after two days of strong gains with the benchmark CSL posting a 0.7 per cent fall.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index declined 0.4 per cent or 41.48 points to 10.853.22.

Shares of Air New Zealand shed 0.9 per cent after the company announced flight cancellations because of ongoing Rolls-Royce engine checks on its Boeing 787-9 aircraft. 

REUTERS

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