September 18, 2018 / 6:40 AM / 8 months ago

Australia shares fall as trade war pressures miners, energy stocks; NZ up

* Materials fall as trade war tensions hit metals

* Energy stocks weaken on lower oil prices (Updates to close)

Sept 18 (Reuters) - Materials and energy stocks pushed Australian shares lower on Tuesday as the escalating U.S.-China trade war pressured commodity and oil prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.4 percent or 23.50 points to 6,161.50 at the close of trade. The index rose 0.3 percent on Monday.

Copper traded on the London Metal Exchange fell as far as 1.5 percent on Tuesday, putting pressure on Australian materials stocks.

The metals and mining index fell 0.5 percent, with miners being among the top drags on the benchmark.

Shares of BHP, the world’s biggest miner, traded 0.4 percent lower and dominated the losses on the benchmark.

Gold miners also traded lower, hurt by a fall in the price of the metal. Newcrest Mining Ltd weakened 1.4 percent, while St Barbara Ltd fell 2.1 percent.

Energy stocks were also under the cosh as the Sino-U.S. trade war clouded the outlook for oil demand.

Origin Energy Ltd fell 2.9 percent to a one-week low, while Woodside Petroleum Ltd was down 1.1 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index firmed 0.5 percent or 44.24 points to finish the session at 9,315.77, its highest since Aug.30.

Shares in telecommunication services led the gains, with Spark New Zealand Ltd rising 1.9 percent.

Industrials also advanced. Auckland International Airport Ltd firmed 2.5 percent to its highest since Aug. 31. (Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; editing by Eric Meijer)

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