June 10, 2019 / 5:38 AM / 9 days ago

NZ shares edge lower, bleak China import data weigh

* NZ snaps 3 straight sessions of gains

* China May imports -8.5% y/y vs -3.8% f’cast

* Australia closed for a holiday (Updates to close)

June 10 (Reuters) - New Zealand shares inched down in subdued activity on Monday as disappointing monthly import figures from China offset optimism over a U.S. decision to call off the threat of tariffs on Mexico.

The closure of Australian financial markets for a holiday kept volumes to just about a fourth of the thirty day average.

The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended down 0.2% or 20.21 points to 10,027.61, snapping three straight sessions of gains.

Chinese imports declined 8.5% in May from a year earlier, the most in nearly three years, in further signs of weak domestic consumption in the world’s second largest economy.

Weaker consumer demand in New Zealand’s biggest trading partner is seen as a negative for the South Pacific island’s economy.

Dairy products maker a2 Milk Ltd reversed course to end down 1.5%, while Auckland International Airport Ltd lost 0.8%.

The downside, however, was limited after the United States ‘indefinitely suspended’ the imposition of 5% tariffs on Mexican goods, following a deal to combat illegal migration from Central America.

Markets were relieved as a trade dispute between the North American neighbours would have further depressed global growth, which has already been hurt by the protracted Sino-U.S. tariff standoff.

Utility firms Contact Energy Ltd and Mercury NZ Ltd added 0.9% and 0.5%, respectively.

Also lending some support to risk sentiment, weak U.S. jobs data released on Friday solidified expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve would soon ease policy to shore up the economy.

Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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