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Australia: Shares edge lower on trade uncertainties; New Zealand up

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.2 per cent, or 11 points, to 6,742.00 by 0052 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.3 per cent on Tuesday.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares slipped slightly on Wednesday amid thin volumes as a lack of details on the Sino-US trade deal from US President Donald Trump's much awaited speech overnight kept investors on the sidelines.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.2 per cent, or 11 points, to 6,742.00 by 0052 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.3 per cent on Tuesday.

Global markets had been on edge on Tuesday ahead of Mr Trump's speech to The Economic Club of New York expecting further developments on the trade deal.

However, Mr Trump merely suggested that the negotiators were "close" to a "phase one" trade deal and emphasised that he would raise tariffs on Chinese goods "very substantially" if China does not make a deal with the United States.

"People are a little hesitant to know which direction to take at the moment," said Doug Symes, senior client adviser, at Novus Capital citing uncertainties about the trade talks. Mining stocks dragged the index lower with the Australian metals and mining sub-index shedding as much as 0.9 per cent to a more than one-week low.

Index heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto shed 0.7 per cent and 1.5 per cent, respectively.

Data showed iron ore shipments to China from Australia's Port Hedland terminal, the world's biggest iron ore port, slipped 0.7 per cent in October from a month earlier.

The world's fourth-biggest iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group also slid 1.8 per cent.

Financial stocks dropped 0.3 per cent with shares of the country's top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia shedding 0.8 per cent after the company announced changes in the senior management of its wealth and mortgage units.

Westpac Banking Corp extended its fall, dropping as much as 0.8 per cent.

Meanwhile, energy stocks dropped 1 per cent with the top oil and gas producers Santos and Woodside Petroleum slipping 0.8 per cent and 0.6 per cent, respectively.

Gold stocks offset some of the losses on the benchmark with Resolute Mining and Regis Resources gaining 4 per cent and 2.2 per cent, respectively.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.4 per cent or 47.84 points to 10,974.15.

New Zealand's central bank left official cash rate unchanged at 1 per cent at its last monetary policy decision of the year. This compares to wide expectations of a rate cut to 0.75 per cent according to a Reuters poll.

Shares of Mercury NZ rose 2.6 per cent, while those of Fletcher Building gained 0.4 per cent.


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