January 24, 2019 / 1:17 AM / 6 months ago

Australian shares edge higher on Santos; NZ flat

* Santos jumps on 2019 guidance, record quarterly revenue

* Gold stocks on track for fourth straight session of loss

By Shriya Ramakrishnan

Jan 24 (Reuters) - Energy stocks pushed Australian shares higher on Tuesday after Santos posted record quarterly revenue and gave stellar annual guidance, though concerns over slackening global growth, a U.S. government shutdown and the Sino-U.S. trade war capped gains.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.2 percent or 10.6 points to 5,854.1 by 0052 GMT. The benchmark fell 0.3 percent on Wednesday.

Santos Ltd, the country’s No.2 independent gas producer, surged 3.9 percent to its highest since Nov. 16, 2018 and was the top performer on the benchmark after it said it expects 2019 production to rise by up to 32 percent and posted record quarterly revenue.

The jump in Santos pushed the energy index 1.4 percent higher, even as oil prices slid overnight on weaker U.S. gasoline prices.

However, most other sectors traded lower as investors fretted over global slowdown risks and the months-long trade conflict between Beijing and Washington.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will visit the United States next week for the latest round of trade negotiations, following high-level talks between the world’s two largest economies at the start of the year.

“The battle is more than just about soybeans and the new promise of 7 million tonnes of wheat. Plus all the other exports from the U.S. (that) China is apparently offering as it tries to buy President Trump off. My sense is they have completely misread him and his Administration.” Greg McKenna, founder of investment adviser McKenna Macro said in a client note.

Tensions between the two countries have had a ripple effect on countries highly exposed to trade such as Australia, whose biggest export market is China.

The metals and mining sector, the benchmark’s second largest constituent, dropped 0.4 percent and was poised for a fourth straight session of losses, hurt by soft iron ore prices.

Global mining giant Rio Tinto lost 0.5 percent, while South32 Ltd dipped 0.6 percent to an over one-week low.

Meanwhile, gold stocks dropped 2.3 percent and were on track for a fourth straight session of loss.

Gold miner Evolution Mining and Regis Resources Ltd dropped 4.9 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively, and were the worst performers on the benchmark.

Earlier in the day, Evolution reported a fall in gold production for the December quarter.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 2.9 points to 9,103.13.

Financials and consumer stocks led losses, with dairy company A2 Milk down 1.2 percent, while NZ-shares of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group lost 0.8 percent. (Reporting by Shriya Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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