April 30, 2019 / 7:06 AM / 3 months ago

Australia shares fall on weak China factory data; NZ flat

* Aussie, NZ benchmarks gain for fourth straight month

* China manufacturing data misses expectations

* Mining index hits a more than 2-month low (Updates to close)

April 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended at a one-week low on Tuesday as energy and mining stocks dropped sharply after disappointing factory data from China highlighted weakness in the world’s second-largest economy.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.5 percent, or 34 points, at 6,325.50, after losing to 0.4 percent on Monday.

However, the index advanced for a fourth straight month in April, gaining 2.3 percent.

According to official and private surveys, manufacturing activity in China expanded for a second straight month in April but at a much slower pace than expected.

Chinese factory data will continue to have a significant effect on the Australian equity market said Nick Twidale, chief operating officer at Rakuten Securities Australia, as China is Australia’s largest trading partner.

The China April economic data caused Australia’s mining stocks index to slump 1.4 percent to a more than two-month low. The index dropped 3.9 percent in April, snapping its streak of four monthly gains.

Mining behemoths BHP Group and Rio Tinto fell 1.1 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.

With Australian shares coming off a 11-year peak scaled on Friday, investors booked profits, with most other sectors also ending down.

“The ASX is up 12 percent still (in 2019)... you’d think that people would be very happy with that return on a yearly basis, let alone quarterly basis,” said Twidale.

Gold stocks slumped 1.9 percent as record intraday highs on the U.S. S&P 500 index overnight prompted investors to shift from gold to other assets.

Newcrest Mining lost 2.4 percent after reporting a fall in its quarterly gold production and OceanaGold Corp slipped 2.7 percent.

The gold sub-index had its worst month since August 2018 in April, falling 5.5 percent.

Energy stocks extended their losing streak to a fifth session, in tandem with falling oil prices.

Shares of oil explorers Santos and Woodside Petroleum shed 1.1 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index remained largely unchanged, after gaining 0.2 percent on Monday. The index rose for a fourth straight month, adding 1.7 percent in April.

New Zealand-listed shares of Westpac Banking Corp firmed 0.4 percent, while Genesis Energy rose 1.2 percent. (Reporting by Mensholong Lepcha; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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