August 21, 2018 / 7:09 AM / a month ago

Australian shares slip on BHP profit miss, political uncertainty; NZ edges up

* Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull survives no-confidence motion

* Reserve Bank of Australia “source of stability” amid political turmoil

* BHP FY results fall short of analysts’ estimates (Updates to close)

By Aaron Saldanha

Aug 21 (Reuters) - Australian shares slid on Tuesday, as investors took note of failed attempts to topple Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and top miner BHP missing annual earnings expectations.

Turnbull survived a leadership challenge by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton but the narrow margin of his win did little to dampen speculation about his future, especially when followed immediately by a parliamentary no-confidence motion.

Turnbull defeated the no-confidence motion but “History is against him in Australia. Generally, each party gets two turns and then the public loses interest and that was due to happen either way,” said Mathan Somasundaram, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

“This is going to drag on until Turnbull gets knocked off because history tells you once you start this, it doesn’t end.”

Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index lost 1 percent to end at 6,284.40. It rose 0.1 percent on Monday.

Global miner BHP’s full-year underlying profit rose 32.7 percent but fell short of expectations. Its shares lost 1.9 percent as investors shrugged off a record final dividend.

The chief executive of the world’s biggest miner said on Tuesday that BHP was “a little more apprehensive” on the short-term outlook, given trade disputes between China and the United States.

Shares of BHP rival Rio Tinto Ltd ended down 0.5 percent.

The financial stocks index was 1.3 percent lower, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia down 0.9 percent and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd 1.8 percent lower.

The minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s August 7 policy meeting said the RBA wished to be “a source of stability and confidence” against a backdrop of political strife and drought.

Australia’s energy index ended 1.8 percent lower despite oil prices rising modestly as Oil Search Ltd reported a near 40 percent fall in half-year profit on lost production and higher costs due to an earthquake which affected a co-owned liquefied natural gas plant.

Oil Search shares finished Tuesday down 2.4 percent.

Shares of Woolworths Group, Australia’s biggest grocer, fell 2.4 percent to extend losses incurred on Monday when it flagged a loss sales momentum after starting to charge customers for shopping bags. New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged up 0.1 percent to 9,115.78, on strength in utilities and consumer staples.

Dairy firm a2 Milk Company Ltd was among the top gainers, rising 1.8 percent. (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha; Additional reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Eric Meijer)

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