November 28, 2018 / 6:24 AM / 20 days ago

Australia shares tick down on Sino-U.S. trade angst; NZ rises

* Mining index dragged by overnight fall in iron ore prices

* Healthcare stocks gain for second straight session

* Consumer and utilities stocks boost NZ benchmark (Updates to close)

Nov 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged lower on Wednesday as Sino-U.S. trade uncertainty ahead of talks between the leaders of the two countries and an overnight fall in commodity prices weighed on sentiment.

Investors were wary of buying into riskier assets amid conflicting comments from White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and U.S. President Donald Trump on the likelihood of a thaw in the Sino-U.S. trade dispute.

Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping are due to hold talks, centring on the contentious trade issues, on the sidelines of a G20 gathering in Argentina at the weekend.

Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.06 percent or 3.20 points at 5,725.10, after rising 1 percent on Tuesday.

A 1 percent loss in metals and mining stocks, which hit their lowest level in nearly a year, dragged down the benchmark.

Iron ore futures in China firmed on Wednesday after expectations of slower demand pushed prices to their lowest level in four-and-a-half months in the previous session.

The downturn in commodity prices underscored broader worries globally about a slowdown in world trade, investment and growth, prompting equity investors to cut their losses or take money off the table before year-end.

Global miners BHP Group Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd fell 0.8 and 2.2 percent, respectively.

Financial stocks ended lower, led by wealth manager AMP Ltd falling 3.3 percent after it confirmed a total bill of A$778 million to compensate customers who had been wrongly charged or received bad advice.

Bucking the trend, Australia’s healthcare sector, traditionally considered a safe haven during times of markets or economic stress, rose 0.1 percent for its second day of gains.

Index heavyweights CSL Ltd and Resmed Inc advanced 0.2 percent and nearly 1 percent respectively.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.46 percent to finish at 8,713.96, boosted by consumer and utilities stocks.

Mobile commerce developer Pushpay Holdings rallied nearly 5 percent, while dairy firm a2 Milk Company Ltd rose 3.7 percent. (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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