March 2, 2018 / 5:41 AM / in a year

Aussie shares weaken on Trump's tariff plans; NZ down

* Trump’s import tariff plans hit miners

* BHP down 1.6 pct

* Aussie shares fall for third straight session (Updates to close)

March 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended lower on Friday as U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports hit commodity prices and sparked fears of a trade war.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell for a third consecutive session, losing 0.7 percent, or 44.4 points to end at 5,928.9. The benchmark closed 1.4 percent lower this week, having gained in the previous two weeks.

The world’s biggest miner BHP Billiton closed 1.6 percent lower at a near three week low. BHP’s American Depository Receipts closed down 1.7 percent on Thursday.

Steel futures dropped 1 percent at 3,997 yuan ($629) a tonne by 0255 GMT, while iron ore on the Dalian Commodities exchange fell 1.2 percent.

Rio Tinto fell 1.3 percent to a three week low, while shares of broader metals and mining stocks ended 1 percent lower.

Trump’s decision has prompted major trade partners like Canada to warn of retaliation, in what could potentially be a blow to the global economy.

Expecations that that the U.S. Federal Reserve will raise interest rates up to four times this year kept other sectors subdued. The benchmark Aussie financials index fell 0.5 percent, in line with its U.S. peer.

Three of the ‘Big four’ banks were lower, losing between 0.1 percent and 0.8 percent, while Westpac Banking Corp ended flat.

Meanwhile, gold stocks defied the trend, rising 1.1 percent, with Newcrest Mining leading the way as gold prices edged away from two-month lows.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.7 percent or 54.29 points to close the session at 8,288.42, and were marginally down for the week.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation led the losses after falling 3.1 percent, while Auckland International Airport dropped 1.7 percent.

Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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