February 13, 2019 / 5:50 AM / in 2 months

Australia shares dragged by CSL losses, NZ gains

* Miners dip on fall in iron ore prices

* CSL Ltd drops to one month low (Updates to close)

Feb 13 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Wednesday, erasing early gains as heavyweight drugmaker CSL dragged the index after posting a disappointing first-half profit rise.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3 percent or 15.5 points to 6,063.6 at the close of trade. The benchmark had risen 0.3 percent on Tuesday.

CSL Ltd, the fifth largest stock in the country, dropped 3.9 percent as investors grew wary of slowing growth in the company and concerns of regulatory delays in China after the company logged a 10 percent rise in its interim profit.

“That (10 percent rise) is a low growth rate for CSL, they usually have growth in the 15-25 percent region. So coming in at those levels, there was some disappointment,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

The sharp fall in share prices reflect the high investor expectations for a company which has consistently outperformed the benchmark and seen its shares surge by a third in a year.

Shares of top miners BHP Group Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd slid 0.6 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

The drop in miners was underpinned by a sharp fall in iron ore futures as investors sought clarity on the magnitude of supply disruption following Vale SA’s dam closures.

Meanwhile, top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia lost near 3 percent as traded ex-dividend, putting pressure on the benchmark.

Elsewhere, mirroring their U.S. peers, local tech stocks advanced 2 percent to a near five month closing high.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 0.6 percent or 52.61 points to finish the session at 9,333.38.

New Zealand listed shares of A2 Milk Company Ltd rose near one percent, while Meridian Energy Ltd advanced 0.5 percent.

The country’s central bank held the official cash rate at a record low of 1.75 percent and said that policy will remain accommodative for a considerable period as risks to economic growth increased

Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Nikhil Subba; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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