July 30, 2018 / 2:18 AM / 20 days ago

Australian, NZ shares lower as Wall St, central banks keep investors cautious

* Wall Street’s losses weigh on Aussie shares

* AMP regains some lost ground after Friday slump

* BHP edges lower on likely strike at copper mine

By Nikhil Nainan

July 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares sagged in light trade on Monday, after weak earnings weighed on Wall Street and kept investors cautious ahead of a busy week of central bank meetings.

Wall Street took a hit at the end of last week after major technology firms’ earnings reports missed estimates, which led to sharp declines in other stocks.

“The market is moving on the negative impact that we have seen on markets on Friday night when U.S. markets turned sour,” said Michael McCarthy, Chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.4 percent, or 26.9 points to 6,273.3 by 0200 GMT. The benchmark climbed 0.9 percent on Friday to a 10-year closing high.

The benchmark’s move to 6,300 level last week and anticipation ahead of local corporate earnings have left investors waiting for the next catalyst for direction.

“These factors are working together to give a cautious start to the week with many investors locking down some strong gains ahead of those key events that could change the outlook,” McCarthy said.

General weakness among financial stocks were enough to weigh on the main board, with the sector index down 0.5 percent.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia led the declines among the ‘Big Four’, down 0.7 percent.

Global events will also keep investors cautious, with the Bank of Japan likely to test markets amid talk the central bank could tweak its massive asset-buying, while the Federal Reserve is expected to reaffirm outlook for further gradual rate rises.

Wealth manager AMP jumped more than 5 percent, regaining almost all of its losses from Friday when it flagged its financial impact from the Royal Commission inquiry into financial sector misconduct.

In the mining sector, South32 and Rio Tinto were the biggest drags, falling 1.7 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

Global miner BHP edged lower with a labour strike at its Escondida mine in Chile almost inevitable. The stock rallied over 2 percent on Friday on news of its U.S. shale assets sale to BP.

After several meetings last week, workers at the world’s largest copper mine rejected the company’s final contract offer and agreed to vote on whether to strike.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 27.78 points, or 0.3 percent, to 8,968.38.

a2 Milk Company lost as much as 2 percent and was the biggest drag. For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan, additional reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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