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Australian shares slip on BHP profit miss, political uncertainty; NZ edges up

[BENGALURU] Australian shares slid on Tuesday, as investors took note of failed attempts to topple Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and top miner BHP missing annual earnings expectations.

Mr Turnbull survived a leadership challenge by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton but the narrow margin of his win did little to dampen speculation about his future, especially when followed immediately by a parliamentary no-confidence motion.

Mr Turnbull defeated the no-confidence motion but "History is against him in Australia. Generally, each party gets two turns and then the public loses interest and that was due to happen either way," said Mathan Somasundaram, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

"This is going to drag on until Turnbull gets knocked off because history tells you once you start this, it doesn't end."

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Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index lost 1 per cent to end at 6,284.40. It rose 0.1 per cent on Monday.

Global miner BHP's full-year underlying profit rose 32.7 per cent but fell short of expectations. Its shares lost 1.9 per cent as investors shrugged off a record final dividend.

The chief executive of the world's biggest miner said on Tuesday that BHP was "a little more apprehensive" on the short-term outlook, given trade disputes between China and the United States.

Shares of BHP rival Rio Tinto Ltd ended down 0.5 per cent.

The financial stocks index was 1.3 per cent lower, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia down 0.9 per cent and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd 1.8 per cent lower.

The minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) Aug 7 policy meeting said the RBA wished to be "a source of stability and confidence" against a backdrop of political strife and drought.

Australia's energy index ended 1.8 per cent lower despite oil prices rising modestly as Oil Search Ltd reported a near 40 per cent fall in half-year profit on lost production and higher costs due to an earthquake which affected a co-owned liquefied natural gas plant.

Oil Search shares finished Tuesday down 2.4 per cent.

Shares of Woolworths Group, Australia's biggest grocer, fell 2.4 per cent to extend losses incurred on Monday when it flagged a loss sales momentum after starting to charge customers for shopping bags. New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged up 0.1 per cent to 9,115.78, on strength in utilities and consumer staples.

REUTERS