May 23, 2019 / 7:06 AM / 5 months ago

Australia shares snap 6 days of gains on trade war fears; NZ at new peak

* Rising U.S.-China trade tensions hit outlook for commodities

* Financials, miners and energy stocks lose most

* Aussie benchmark snaps six-session winning streak (Updates to close)

May 23 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended lower on Thursday, ending six straight sessions of gains, as global stocks slipped on concerns U.S-China trade frictions were spilling into the technology sector.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3% or 18.90 points to 6,491.80. The benchmark rose 0.2% on Wednesday.

“As ever, the sentiment is vulnerable to headline flashes on trade,” said Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst, Asia Pacific at OANDA, said in a note.

“We can expect this sort of flip-flopping in sentiment daily until more clarity emerges on any progress on the U.S.-China trade front,” Halley added.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported the U.S. administration was considering sanctions on Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision, which sparked fresh worries that the trade conflict was spiralling into a technology cold war.

After recent curbs against Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies, investors worried trade talks between the world’s two largest economies would be at a stalemate.

Miners slumped 1%, shrugging off record high iron ore prices. Mining giants BHP Group and rival Rio Tinto fell 2% and 0.7%, respectively.

However, Fortescue Metals Group managed to eke out gains of 1%, recovering after a steep drop in the last session as shares traded ex-dividend.

Financials tumbled 1%, with all the “Big Four” lenders trading in negative territory. Westpac Banking Corp fell 2.3%, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group lost 1.6%.

Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell the least among them, down 1.1%.

Energy stocks ended down 1.3% as the outlook on demand weakened. Santos shed 2% while sector heavyweight Woodside Petroleum lost 1.1%.

Bucking the trend, property and housing-related stocks continued to benefit after Australia’s prudential regulator proposed easing of certain lending criteria for home loans earlier this week.

Construction materials supplier Adelaide Brighton rose 6.3% while CSR Ltd added 5.7%. Boral gained 1.2%.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3% or 25.93 points to 10,263.41, a new all-time high.

Dairy firm a2 Milk Company edged slightly higher while Fletcher Building added 3%. (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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