May 14, 2019 / 1:54 AM / 2 months ago

Australia, NZ shares slide as Sino-U.S. trade tension escalates

* Aussie index slips to near 6,200 support level

* Financial stocks hit one-month low, NAB trades ex-div

* Copper miners slump on shaky demand outlook for commodities

* Gold stocks see best intraday percentage gain since October

By Rashmi Ashok

May 14 (Reuters) - Australian shares plunged to a one-month low on Tuesday, as investors abandoned equities for safe-haven assets as the Sino-U.S. trade war escalated, with China announcing tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods.

At 0130 GMT, the S&P/ASX 200 index was down 77.40 points or 1.2% to 6,219.90. The benchmark fell 0.2% on Monday.

Worries about the U.S.-China conflict sent global stocks tumbling. China late on Monday said it will impose tariffs on a range of U.S. goods including frozen vegetables and liquefied natural gas, despite President Donald Trump’s warning to not retaliate for his tariff hike on $200 billion of imports from China .

“Fear and loathing on the stock market this morning... the lead overnight was very negative. Technically, our market is starting to break down. It’s hitting the 6,200 mark, a significant level of support,” said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

“All the indicators are looking very negative. Not a lot to go out there and spend your money except if it was on a gold stock,” he added.

Financial stocks took a beating for a second session, plunging as much as 2.4% to a one-month low.

The fourth largest lender, National Australia Bank, slipped as much as 5.3%, as shares traded ex-dividend.

All the “Big Four” banks fell more than 1%, with biggest lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia losing as much as 2%.

The sell-off particularly hit asset managers. IOOF Holdings and Magellan Financial Group were down as much as 5.1% and 4%, respectively.

Copper miners slipped after a sharp drop in base metal prices, as investors fretted over a possible fall in demand for the commodities due to the protracted trade dispute.

Mining behemoth BHP Group fell as much as 2.1% to hit a 3-month low and Rio Tinto shed 1.7%.

Bucking Tuesday’s trend, the gold sub-index surged to its biggest intraday percentage gain in over seven months, as investors scurried to the safe haven metal as other shares dropped.

Newcrest Mining , Australia’s biggest gold producer, rose 3.8%, while Northern Star Resources advanced 6.2%. Smaller miners such as St Barbara and Saracen Mineral Holdings also surged.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slumped 104.42 points or 1 percent to 10,025.67.

Infratil Ltd was the biggest loser, falling as much as 6.1% after it announced the NZ$3.4 billion ($2.24 billion) acquisition of Vodafone New Zealand.

$1 = 1.5195 New Zealand dollars Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Borsuk

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