April 11, 2019 / 1:54 AM / 2 months ago

Australian shares lower on U.S. growth concerns; NZ up

* Financials, miners weigh on Aussie benchmark

* Bank of Queensland falls post disappointing H1 results

* NZ stocks set to snap 6-session losing run

By Aby Jose Koilparambil

April 11 (Reuters) - Australian shares struggled on Thursday, weighed down by financials and miners, as minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last meeting raised concerns about growth in the world’s largest economy.

The S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 0.4 percent to 6,200.90 by 0110 GMT, after having ended little changed on Wednesday.

Analysts said investors in Australia remained cautious, despite gains on Wall Street overnight, as the Fed minutes showed policymakers said a “deterioration” in the U.S. economy could be amplified by large debt burdens at American companies.

“The positive lead from the Fed meeting minutes did not spill over to our markets today as investors here remained cautious, probably focusing on the lack of consensus among the U.S. policymakers,” said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

Financials, the largest sector in the benchmark, declined as much as 0.8 percent with all the “Big Four” banks falling between 0.5 percent to 0.9 percent.

Bank of Queensland was the top percentage loser on the benchmark, dropping more than 4 percent, after it said its first-half cash earnings fell 8 percent.

The broader weakness in metal prices put the miners under pressure, with the metals and mining sub-index shedding up to 0.8 percent.

China’s iron ore futures paused after a seven-session rally, while zinc touched a two-week low on concerns that Chinese smelters will ramp up output. Other major base metals - copper, aluminium and lead - also slipped.

Index heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto declined 0.4 percent and 0.6 percent respectively.

Healthcare stocks also declined with major sector players in the benchmark CSL Ltd and Cochlear Ltd shedding 0.8 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively.

Whitehaven Coal Ltd fell most among energy stocks after the company reported a 3 percent fall in its March quarter saleable coal production, and lowered its production guidance for fiscal 2019.

The gold sub-index, which rose 1.8 percent in the previous session, dropped 0.8 prices despite a rise in the price of the yellow metal.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the benchmark by a 8-to-5 ratio.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index advanced 0.6 percent to 9,762.89 and was set to snap a six-session losing run.

Retirement village operator Summerset Group Holdings Ltd , the top percentage gainer on the benchmark, put on 2.5 percent.

Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes

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