May 14, 2019 / 6:44 AM / 2 months ago

Australia, NZ shares end lower as Sino-U.S. trade war intensifies

* Aussie index pares losses after dropping near 6,200 support

* Financial stocks slide, NAB trades ex-div

* Gold stocks close at 1-month high

* Infratil among top losers in NZ index after Vodafone NZ deal (Updates to close)

May 14 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed at a one-month low on Tuesday, as investors abandoned equities for safe-haven assets due to escalating Sino-U.S. trade tensions.

China announced tariff increases on $60 billion of U.S. goods on Monday in retaliation for Washington imposing higher tariffs on $200 billion of imports from China on Friday.

After falling to just shy of the 6,200 point support level, the S&P/ASX 200 index pared losses to end down 57.7 points or 0.92% at 6,239.90. The benchmark fell 0.2% on Monday.

“Technically, our market is starting to break down. It’s hitting the 6,200 mark, a significant level of support,” said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

“All the indicators are looking very negative. Not a lot to go out there and spend your money on except if it was on a gold stock,” he added.

Financial stocks took a beating for a second session, ending down 1.8% at a one-month low. The fourth largest lender, National Australia Bank, ended down 4.7%, as shares traded ex-dividend.

The sell-off particularly hit asset managers. IOOF Holdings and Challenger Ltd closed 6% and 3.4% lower, respectively.

Iron ore and copper miners slipped after a sharp drop in metal prices, as investors fretted over a possible fall in demand for the commodities due to the protracted trade dispute.

Mining behemoth BHP Group was off 1.1% at close, however, rival Rio Tinto reversed course from early losses to end slightly higher.

Bucking the trend, the gold sub-index surged 3.4% to end at a one-month closing high.

Australia’s biggest gold miner Newcrest Mining rose 1.8%, while Northern Star Resources advanced 4.3%.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 56.48 points or 0.6% lower to end at 10,070.35.

Infratil Ltd was among biggest losers, ending 2.6% lower after it announced the NZ$3.4 billion ($2.24 billion) acquisition of Vodafone New Zealand. (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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