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Australia shares sag on miners, energy stocks; NZ up

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended lower on Friday, with energy and mining stocks accounting for more than half of the losses as resurgent US-China trade tensions drove investors away from risk-sensitive assets. The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.34 per cent, or 21 points, to 6,071.5. The benchmark rose 1.1 per cent on Thursday, and was up 3.4 per cent for the week.

Sentiment across financial, crude oil futures and metal markets was dampened after the United States downplayed the possibility of signing a trade deal with China before the March 1 deadline.

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he did not plan to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping before a March 1 deadline set by the two countries to achieve a trade deal.

The news sent Australia's China-dependent mining and energy stocks sharply lower, dragging the benchmark.

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Oil producer Beach Energy fell as much as 10.4 per cent, its biggest drop since Nov 21, while sector heavyweight Santos Ltd slumped 4.4 per cent.

Mining behemoth Rio Tinto dropped 1.8 per cent and snapped a three-day winning run, while BHP Group and Fortescue Metals Group lost 1.5 per cent and 1.6 per cent, respectively.

Financials stocks erased early gains to end 0.2 per cent lower, with National Australia Bank slipping 0.7 per cent and seeing its worst day in nearly 1-1/2 weeks.

The country's fourth biggest lender dropped the most among its peers after its chief executive and chairman quit their posts following a major inquiry into the financial sector that exposed widespread misconduct.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.47 per cent or 43.1 points to 9,176.61.

Retirement village operator Ryman Healthcare was the biggest percentage gainer, up as much as 4.5 per cent.

REUTERS