July 4, 2018 / 2:23 AM / 4 months ago

Australian shares fall as financials weigh; NZ down

* Weak commodity prices drag materials lower

* Platinum Investment top pct loser on trade war concerns

By Nikhil Nainan

July 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Wednesday as financials reversed their gains from the previous session, while materials stocks continued their decline on weaker commodity prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.4 percent, or 23.5 points to 6,189.1 by 0150 GMT.

May retail sales came in slightly higher than expected at 0.4 percent, but were lower than the revised value for April.

“The retail sector has been under sustained pressure for many years so any surprise on retail sales does have potential market implications,” said Michael McCarthy, chief strategist at CMC Markets and Stockbroking.

The benchmark climbed 0.5 percent on Tuesday.

Financial stocks led the losses after rising 0.9 percent on Tuesday, with the main financial index down 0.6 percent as investors took profits.

Platinum Investment Management, which has investments in China, was the top percentage loser on the benchmark, sliding as much as 9.9 percent to a near 11-month low, as trade war concerns weakened Chinese asset prices.

“The market is really getting into the trade war fears. Chinese moves to support the yuan showed that any move by the United States in the trade war will drive the yuan and Chinese equities even lower,” said Mathan Somasundaram, a Blue Ocean Equities market portfolio strategist.

Australia and New Zealand Banking bucked the broader trend while the other “Big Four” banks traded in a range of 0.2 percent to 0.6 percent lower.

In materials stocks, BHP and Rio Tinto reflected the broader losses in the sector, as commodity prices continue to weaken.

Copper prices hit nine-month lows on Wednesday on worries about global growth, while Shanghai rebar futures fell for a second session on Tuesday.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.3 percent to 9,024.37, with consumer staples and health care stocks leading the losses.

New Zealand shares of a2 Milk Company were the biggest drag, down as much as 3.7 percent from the strong gains it made in the previous session when its supply contract with Synlait was extended.

For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru Editing by Eric Meijer)

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