February 26, 2019 / 1:38 AM / 7 months ago

Australia shares fall as energy, miners drag; NZ steadies

* Energy stocks dip as oil prices slide

* Santos, WorleyParsons, Wesfarmers trade ex-div

* Blackmores drop after CEO steps down

* Trump cautions on trade deal

By Shreya Mariam Job

Feb 26 (Reuters) - Australian shares dropped on Tuesday with mining and energy stocks leading losses as falling prices and investor caution over details of a China-U.S. trade deal weighed on the index.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1 percent, or 63.4 to 6,122.9, by 0128 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.3 percent on Monday.

Oil futures tumbled more than 3 percent on Monday in their largest daily percentage drop this year after U.S. President Donald Trump called on OPEC to ease its efforts to boost crude prices, which he said were “getting too high.”

“Trump setting the price by suggesting that OPEC should relax and effectively taking their foot off the oil agreements is weighing on the index,” said Damian Rooney, director of equity sales at Argonaut.

Santos Ltd and WorleyParsons Ltd dropped 2.6 percent and 3 percent, respectively, with both stocks trading ex-dividend.

Meanwhile, bucking broader losses in the energy sector was Caltex Australia, which jumped more than 5 percent after reporting a higher than forecast full-year underlying net profit and announcing a share buyback.

Mining stocks fell 1.3 percent, following gaining on the back of Trump said on Sunday that he would delay a tariff hike on $200 billion of Chinese imports planned for March 1 after “productive” trade talks.

The delay in a tariff hike was the clearest signs yet that both sides were making progress in the talks, but Trump on Monday also sounded a note of caution, saying a deal “could happen fairly soon, or it might not happen at all.”

Global miner BHP Group Ltd and rival Rio Tinto Ltd shed 1.5 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. Iron ore prices also retreated on Monday despite positive overall sentiment.

The biggest percentage loser was Alumina Ltd, which fell as much as 8.8 percent, as the stock trades ex-dividend.

Elsewhere, vitamin manufacturer Blackmores said its chief executive Richard Henfrey will step down but did not give a reason for the resignation. Shares fell 4.3 percent on the news.

Conglomerate Wesfarmers Ltd, an index heavyweight, dropped 6.6 percent after trading ex-dividend.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was marginally higher on Tuesday, adding 8.93 points to 9,353.85.

New Zealand listed shares of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd and Goodman Property Trust rose 0.6 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.

A 1.2 percent rise in Auckland International Airport helped offset a near 5 percent drop in Tourism Holdings Ltd after it posted lower half-year net profit.

Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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