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Australia shares edge lower as U.S.-China worries resurface

Stock MarketsFeb 12, 2021 12:30
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© Reuters.

* Gold stocks fall on weaker bullion prices

* Telstra hits six-month high after PT raise

* NZ set to mark third straight weekly loss

Feb 12 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped on Friday, weighed by energy and gold stocks, as U.S. President Joe Biden's comments on China stoked worries that relations between the two nations could sour further.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO fell 0.3% to 6,828.90 by 0057 GMT, and was set to mark a weekly loss. The benchmark slipped 0.1% on Thursday.

Appetite for risky assets declined after Biden warned China was poised to "eat our lunch," following the U.S. President's first phone call as leader with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping overnight. During the call, both appeared at odds on most issues. Australia, the gold index .AXGD was the top percentage loser, falling as much as 1.4% on lower bullion prices.

Westgold Resources WGX.AX shed over 3% to hit its lowest since August 2020 and was among the top losers on the Australian benchmark. Dacian Gold DCN.AX fell over 5% to a near six-week low.

The energy sub-index .AXEJ declined 1.2% to its lowest since Feb. 2, as oil prices ended a record streak of gains.

Beach Energy BPT.AX lost about 2%. Oil Search OSH.AX tumbled nearly 3% and is set for its worst session this month.

The broader mining sector .AXMM was on track for its biggest percentage loss since Feb. 3, with BHP Group BHP.AX shedding about 2% and Rio Tinto (LON:RIO) RIO.AX slipping nearly 1%.

In a bright spot, the telecommunications sector .AXTJ advanced 1.3% to its highest since Aug. 7, 2017.

The country's largest telecom firm Telstra Corp TLS.AX rose to a six-month peak after brokerage Jefferies lifted its price target on the company's stock. the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 fell 0.6% to 12,683.38, set to mark its third consecutive weekly loss.

Meridian Energy MEL.NZ fell 3.8%, while Kathmandu Holdings KMD.NZ lost over 4% after the travel equipment retailer reported its unaudited half-yearly trading results.

Australia shares edge lower as U.S.-China worries resurface
 

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