November 19, 2018 / 1:53 AM / 10 months ago

Aussie shares fall on global tensions; NZ down

* Energy index hits 7-month low

* Viva Energy Group worst performer among Aussie shares

By Niyati Shetty

Nov 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Monday, weighed down by energy and financial stocks, as heightened international tensions and slowing global growth rattled risk-averse investors.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.6 percent or 36.2 points to 5,694.4 by 0106 GMT. The benchmark was marginally lower on Friday.

“Fairly cautious start to trading...In particular, the mutual criticisms between U.S. and China has markets concerned about rising global trade tensions and the announcement by U.S. intelligence agencies that Saudi Arabia was behind the killing of a journalist (Jamal Khashoggi) has painted the White House into a diplomatic corner,” said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

Remarks from U.S. Vice President Mike Spence at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation summit on Saturday added to anxiety over the Sino- U.S. trade spat when he said the United States would not back down.

Separately, two U.S. Federal Reserve officials on Friday cautioned of a slowdown in global economic growth.

Energy stocks fell as much as 1.9 percent and were at a seven-month low after fresh revelations in the Khashoggi case created a fissure between U.S. and major oil producer Saudi Arabia.

Government sources on Saturday said the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had briefed the Trump administration on the murder and its belief that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered it.

Oil and gas explorers Woodside Petroleum Ltd and Santos Ltd fell 1.2 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Viva Energy Group Ltd fell as much as 19 percent was the worst performer among Australian shares after it cut its fiscal 2018 profit outlook.

The financial index fell 0.9 percent with top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia losing 0.8 percent.

CBA chief executive Matt Comyn admitted to feelings of disappointment and embarrassment at the Royal Commission enquiry into financial sector misbehaviour after revelations of large-scale money-laundering at the bank. Health insurer Medibank Private Ltd fell about 9 percent after it lost its health services contract with the Australian government.

Gold stocks, on the other hand, were up 1.8 percent after gold prices rose as investors sought a safer haven than the falling U.S. dollar.

Gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd was up 1.2 percent, while peer Evolution Mining gained 3.6 percent.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was down 0.21 percent to 8,791.34.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare fell 1.5 percent and Auckland International Airport lost 1.3 percent.

Reporting by Niyati Shetty in Bengaluru; editing by Eric Meijer

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