November 6, 2019 / 6:44 AM / 4 months ago

Australia shares fall as gold miners tumble; NZ down

* Investors look for concrete deal on paper - Analyst

* Gold miners down 2.4%, over 4-month closing low

* Financials dragged by Medibank and Bank of Queensland (Updates to close)

By Rashmi Ashok

Nov 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed lower on Wednesday, pressured by a drop in gold miners, while investors waited for progress on trade talks between the United States and China.

The S&P/ASX 200 index shed early gains, to fall 0.6%, or 36.90 points, to 6,660.20 at the close of trade. The benchmark had risen 0.2% on Tuesday.

Washington and Beijing are working to narrow their differences enough to sign a “phase one” trade deal as early as this month, but the venue for signing the deal was not yet finalised.

“There’s a tentative deal, but until something is put on paper and signed, investors are still going to be a little cautious in buying,” said Steven Daghlian, market analyst at CommSec.

“For now, there’s a little bit of optimism, but it’s not shooting the lights out by any means.”

Gold stocks plunged 2.4% to hit a four-and-a-half month low after spot prices tumbled more than 2% overnight amid expectations that the United States might drop tariffs on some Chinese imports.

Newcrest Mining Ltd closed down 2.6%, while Northern Star Resources shed 2.4%.

Smaller miners, such as Saracen Mineral Holdings, St Barbara Ltd and Regis Resources fell between 1.4% and 3%.

Daghlian also said that investors were awaiting October trade data out of China on Friday and inflation data a day later. China is Australia’s largest trading partner and weakness in Beijing’s economy has potential to spill over into trade.

Financial stocks, down 0.2%, were dragged by Medibank Private Ltd’s 8.5% fall after the insurer reported it experienced higher-than-expected claims since August, and said it expected the trend to continue into the rest of 2019.

Adding pressure, Bank of Queensland tumbled 4.3% as the stock traded ex-dividend.

Healthcare stocks fell more than 1%, with heavyweight CSL Ltd dropping 0.9%, while Cochlear Ltd lost 1.9%.

U.S.-based medical equipment maker Resmed Inc lost 3.5% as the company’s shares traded ex-dividend.

Capping losses in markets, mining giant BHP Group added 1.5%, while manganese and aluminium miner South32 Ltd rose 2.7%.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.8% or 82.36 points to finish the session at 10,759.18.

Dairy giant a2 Milk Company Ltd fell 3.6%, while Synlait Milk Ltd slipped 1.6%. (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru, editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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