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Australia: Shares end lower as Sino-US tensions heighten

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Australian shares closed lower on Friday as global risk sentiment was hit after tensions between the United States and China heightened over the imposition of a new law in Hong Kong.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares closed lower on Friday as global risk sentiment was hit after tensions between the United States and China heightened over the imposition of a new law in Hong Kong.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.96 per cent lower at 5,497. For the week, it gained 1.7 per cent.

The United States warned China against imposing a new national security law on Hong Kong, saying any dilution of the city's autonomy could lead to a withdrawal of the favourable US trading terms that have helped Hong Kong maintain its position as a global financial centre.

Souring relations between Beijing and Washington has also made investors nervous about the Phase 1 trade deal signed earlier this year.

The Australian benchmark though closed higher for a fourth straight week.

Recent gains by the Aussie benchmark can seem odd given underlying economic factors remain dire, while the increased liquidity in markets has clearly spilled over into assets like stocks, said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

Among sectors and stocks, the sub-index for miners fell 0.8 per cent but gained more than 6 per cent for the week, its best weekly performance in over three years, as iron ore prices gained.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell to end the week 0.6 per cent lower. 

REUTERS

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