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Australian shares drop on trade war worries after Trump's comments; NZ down

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[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell on Monday after US President Donald Trump's threat to impose tariffs on all Chinese imports put global riskier assets on the skids.

The S&P/ASX 200 index declined 0.9 per cent, or 58.3 points, to 6,227.6 at the close of trade. The benchmark gained 0.4 per cent on Friday.

Mr Trump said on Friday he was ready to impose tariffs on all US$500 billion of imported goods from China, as a trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies shows no signs of abating.

Christopher Conway, head of research and trading at Australian Stock Report said that the market has been on a good run of late, "so it is not surprising that when we see some negative leads and sentiment from offshore that our entire market pulls backward a little bit".

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Global miner BHP suffered a 1.4 per cent loss after it confirmed that it had been served with a class action lawsuit regarding the 2015 Samarco dam failure in Brazil. Last week, BHP said it expected a US$650 million charge in its fiscal 2018 results on account of the failure.

The Aussie mining index fell 0.9 per cent, as commodity prices remained pressured by global trade tensions.

Financials were the biggest drag, with the main financial index and Westpac Banking down 0.9 per cent each.

The bank had earlier announced that its wealth management unit, BT Financial Group, cut prices of its flagship platform at a time when its peers have retreated from their wealth businesses.

Gold stocks retreated from morning gains as an uptick in gold prices paused near their highest since July 17.

The yellow metal's earlier gains, supported by an easing dollar following Mr Trump's criticism of the Federal Reserve's interest rate hikes, lifted the gold index over half a per cent.

But it receded 0.3 per cent by the close for its seventh straight session of losses, with Newcrest Mining down 0.7 per cent.

a2 Milk company was the biggest drag on the New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index, which fell 82.98 points to finish at 8,872.56.

After closing flat on Friday following four straight sessions of losses, a2 Milk slipped into the red again, down 2.8 per cent at a near two-month low.

REUTERS