October 18, 2018 / 1:25 AM / a month ago

Australian shares slip as Fed minutes weigh, NZ climbs

* Weak commodity prices push energy, metals 1 pct lower

* Restaurant Brands NZ hits record after bid

By Devika Syamnath

Oct 18 (Reuters) - Australian shares dipped on Thursday, led lower by commodities stocks and tracking global losses after minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve’s last meeting reinforced expectations the central bank will tighten policy further.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was 0.3 percent lower, or 18.5 points, to 5920.6 at 0109 GMT, having advanced 1 percent on Wednesday.

An equity rout caused by concerns over global growth, rising U.S. borrowing costs and trade tensions had hammered local markets and sent the benchmark below 6,000, knocking off about 5.6 percent in value from Oct. 8 till Monday’s close.

While sentiment has improved since then, the Fed’s resolve to raise borrowing costs further has reignited the kind of investor concerns about tighter policy that triggered the major sell-off the week before.

“The foreign and trade policy of the U.S. is going to force investors to go into U.S. and away from emerging markets so that’s going to create weaker global growth,” said Mathan Somasundaram, a market portfolio strategist at Blue Ocean Equities in Sydney.

Commodity stocks led losses on the benchmark, with global miner BHP giving up as much as 1.7 percent and the sector index losing over 1 percent.

“After the Fed update, the U.S. dollar strengthened a bit and that is usually negative for commodities,” Somasundaram said.

Commodities, which are traded in dollar terms, turn more expensive when the currency strengthens. The U.S. dollar index rose to its highest levels in a week on Wednesday after the Fed minutes.

Soft base metal prices added to miners’ woes with signs that a supply squeeze in China was receding capping London copper prices while aluminium fell after a second day of large inflows of the metal into London Metal Exchange warehouses.

The energy sector notched a 1.5 percent fall and bore the brunt of weakening global oil prices after U.S. crude stockpiles rose while exports dropped.

Shares of oil and gas majors Santos Ltd and Woodside Petroleum declined 1.7 percent each even as both clocked quarterly revenue that beat expectations.

Across the Tasman Sea, the New Zealand benchmark index S&P/NZX 50 index advanced 0.3 percent or 30.1 points higher to 8,941.91 at 1253 GMT.

Shares of Restaurant Brands New Zealand Ltd jumped to a record after it received a NZ$9.45 per share offer for up to three-quarters of its shares from a Mexico-based investment firm, Finaccess Capital, S.A. de C.V. (Reporting by Devika Syamnath in Bengaluru, Additional reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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