November 2, 2018 / 2:01 AM / 18 days ago

Australia shares weaker as crude prices weigh on energy stocks; NZ rises

* Lower crude prices peg back energy stocks

* Metal stocks gain

* Aussie benchmark on track to post 3 pct weekly gain

By Aman Swami

Nov 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged lower on Friday, defying a broader rally in global markets and weighed by energy stocks as crude oil prices weakened and fresh worries about domestic growth in the third quarter.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.2 percent to 5,833.00 by 0130 GMT, with the benchmark on track to post a 3 percent gain for the week.

Data released during market hours showed Australian retailers suffered another tepid month of sales in an outcome that augers poorly for third-quarter economic growth.

The concerns about growth pushed stocks into negative territory following modest gains earlier, spurred by improving sentiment in global markets after U.S. President Donald Trump said trade discussions with China were “moving along nicely”.

“Trump has probably added a little bit of positive sentiment to the global markets and that helps the domestic market over here” said Damien Hennessy, co-founder at Heuristic Investment Systems.

Leading the losses in Australia were energy stocks, which came under pressure after oil prices plunged about 3 percent due to growing concerns that global demand is weakening at a time when output from the world’s major oil producers is surging.

Santos Ltd, Australia’s No.2 independent gas producer, fell as much as 3.1 percent while Beach Energy Ltd traded down as much as 2.8 percent.

Australia’s metals index rose 1.1 percent on track to post a weekly gain of 5.4 percent.

Aluminium rebounded from a 15-month low rising alongside other metals as buyers returned to markets, denting the U.S. dollar.

Gold stocks rose 0.4 percent but are on track to post a loss of about 2 percent loss for the week.

The gold price rose nearly 2 percent, bouncing off a three-week low touched in the previous session making the metal cheaper for holders of other currencies.

Infant formula maker Blackmores Ltd was the top percentage drag among consumer stocks, falling as much as 5.3 percent, while retailer Woolworths Group skidded as much as 1.9 percent.

The financial index edged down after five-consecutive sessions of gains.

Janus Henderson Group PLC and NIB Holdings Ltd were among the biggest percentage losers on the index, falling 4.4 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

Loses in the index were capped by gains from Macquarie Group Ltd, which rose 3.4 percent after strong half year results.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index too was on track to post a sixth consecutive session of gains, rising 0.1 percent en route to a weekly gain of about 3.4 percent.

Z Energy Ltd and Synlait Milk were the top percentage gainers on the benchmark, rising about 2.2 percent each.

Reporting by Aman Swami; Editing by Sam Holmes

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