November 19, 2018 / 6:02 AM / 5 months ago

Australia shares end lower on rising global tensions; NZ also down

* Energy stocks close at lowest since April

* Concerns on global growth weigh on benchmark (Updates to close)

Nov 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended lower on Monday as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s comments on slowing global growth and uncertainty over headway in Sino-U.S. trade relations checked investor sentiment.

Federal Reserve policymakers on Friday signalled further interest rate hikes but flagged concerns over a potential global slowdown, raising questions on whether they will continue with planned rate hikes over the next year.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.6 percent or 36.90 points to 5,693.70 at the close of trade. The benchmark lost nearly 0.1 percent on Friday.

Meanwhile, tensions also mounted as Asia-Pacific leaders failed to agree on a communique at a summit in Papua New Guinea on Sunday, as a face-off between U.S. and China over trade and investment fettered cooperation.

Financial stocks fell 0.8 percent, with top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia slipping 0.6 percent while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd dipped 0.8 percent.

Earlier in the day, CBA’s Chief Executive Matt Comyn admitted that the bank’s senior staff felt disappointment and embarrassment when a regulator blamed its culture of complacency for letting money laundering flourish.

The energy index slipped 1.6 percent to its lowest level since April even as oil prices rose, with concerns over a demand slowdown weighing on sentiment.

Sector heavyweight Woodside Petroleum Ltd dipped 1.4 percent, while Santos Ltd fell 1.1 percent at close.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped by 0.19 percent or 16.77 points to finish at 8,792.93.

Construction and building material supplier Fletcher Building Ltd fell 2.1 percent. (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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