September 25, 2018 / 2:18 AM / 8 months ago

Australian shares fall as trade war knocks confidence; NZ falls

* Aussie shares hit by global trade tensions

* Banks lead declines

* Energy stocks rise on surging oil prices

By Aditya Soni

Sept 25 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped on Tuesday as an escalation in Sino-U.S. trade tensions hit risk sentiment, while energy stocks jumped on a rally in oil prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3 percent or 17.90 points to 6,169.00 by 0200 GMT. The benchmark dipped 0.1 percent on Monday.

Stock markets in Asia were under pressure on Tuesday as the latest exchange of U.S.-China tariffs revived fears the trade dispute would knock global growth.

Investors also await the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monetary policy decision on Wednesday, at which the central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates.

“Most of the blue chips are probably fairly directionless, we have a Fed meeting this week in the States, and I think its global issues that will define where the markets go,” said Damien Rooney, director of equity sales at Argonaut.

Banks were the biggest drag on the benchmark on Tuesday, with the financial index weakening 0.4 percent.

Index heavyweight Westpac Banking Corp fell as much as 1 percent, its biggest intraday percentage fall in nearly two-weeks, and was the top drag on the benchmark, while the rest of the country’s “big four” banks slipped between 0.4 percent and 0.9 percent.

Consumer staples were also in the red, with index heavyweight Woolworths Group Ltd dropping 0.3 percent. Treasury Wine Estates Ltd fell as much as 1.8 percent.

Elsewhere, energy stocks rallied 2 percent to their highest since Aug. 14 on surging oil prices.

Brent crude jumped more than 3 percent on Monday to a four-year high above $80 a barrel after Saudi Arabia and Russia ruled out any immediate increase in production despite calls by U.S. President Donald Trump for action to raise global supply.

As a result, Woodside Petroleum Ltd, the country’s biggest listed oil and gas explorer, rose 2 percent to a more than 3-1/2 year high, while Santos Ltd firmed 2.5 percent to its highest since May 2015.

The rise in oil prices also bolstered BHP which was trading 0.2 percent higher.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.2 percent or 19.93 points to 9,317.58.

Health care stocks accounted for most of the losses, with Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Ltd dipping 1.1 percent, while EBOS Group Ltd dropped 1.6 percent.

Shares of telecommunication services also retreated, with Chorus Ltd falling as much as 2.4 percent to a near three-week low. (Reporting by Aditya Soni in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Shanima A; Editing by Sam Holmes)

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