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Australia: Shares inch up as US-China tensions weigh; New Zealand edges up


[BENGALURU] Australian shares inched up on Tuesday as developments in the US-China trade dispute favoured caution, but heavyweight BHP lent some support after announcing it had found new mineral deposits in South Australia.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 11.6 points or 0.2 per cent to 5,683.2 by 0119 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.78 per cent on Monday.

US President Donald Trump said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that he expects to move ahead with raising tariffs on US$200 billion in Chinese imports to 25 per cent from 10 per cent currently. China is Australia's largest trading partner.

BHP Group rose nearly 0.8 per cent after it said it had identified a potential new iron oxide, copper and gold mineralised system near its Olympic Dam operations in South Australia as part of a copper exploration program.

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The miner, the heaviest stock on the ASX 200 index, also benefited from an overnight rise in oil prices.

Other miners fell amid weaker metal prices and concerns over demand from China. Rio Tinto shed about 0.6 per cent, while South32 lost slightly.

Energy stocks contributed to gains and recovered from a substantial drop on Monday to rise in tandem with oil prices. The sub-index rose about 0.9 per cent with oil and gas players Beach Energy and Santos in the lead.

Financial stocks rose marginally as the big four banks on the index benefited from bargain buying.

Dale Raynes, associate director at CPS Capital, said banks "were up a smidgen" on bargain buying after facing heavy sell-offs in the past few weeks.

Healthcare stocks, which are regarded as the defensive sector of the ASX, rose about 0.4 per cent. Index heavyweight CSL, which conducts most of its business overseas, also benefited from a stronger US dollar.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose about 0.25 per cent or 22.38 points to 8,684.75 as healthcare stocks gained.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare extended gains to rise about 2.3 per cent after posting an increased interim profit on Monday. Peer Ryman Healthcare rose about 1.8 per cent.