Australian shares slip as Sino-U.S. rift clouds recovery outlook

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May 29 (Reuters) – Australian shares fell on Friday as investor concerns about a standoff between Washington and Beijing over Hong Kong tempered optimism about a re-opening of the world economy, while financial stocks were set to snap a four-day rally.

In the latest dispute between the world’s two biggest economies, U.S. President Donald Trump said he will give a news conference on China on Friday, as his administration moves to pressure Beijing over its treatment of Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s government warned Washington that withdrawing its special U.S. status could be a “double-edged sword” and urged the United States to stop interfering in its internal affairs.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.38% to 5,770.2 points by 0115 GMT. The index is set to post its fifth straight weekly gain.

Financial stocks slumped 2.51%, but the index was on track to post its best weekly gain.

Virgin Money UK PLC shed 8.96%, while Westpac Banking Corp lost 4.51%.

ASX 200 Energy index dropped 1.09​%, led by New Hope Corp Ltd, down 8.67%, followed by Whitehaven Coal Ltd that lost 4.29%.

Brent crude futures fell 1.47% to $34.77 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude lost 2.22% to $32.96 per barrel.

Meanwhile, gold stocks rose 2.93%, led by Northern Star Resources Ltd, up 7.05%, followed by Bellevue Gold Ltd, gaining 5.31​%.

The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 511, while 698 declined as a 0.7-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

The most heavily traded shares by volume were Southern Cross Media Group Ltd, Tabcorp Holdings Ltd and Incitec Pivot Ltd.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.19% to 10,836. The top percentage losers in the benchmark were Westpac Banking Corp down 2.64%, followed by Meridian Energy Ltd losing 2.45% and Tourism Holdings Ltd dropping 2.31%.

Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry
Jacob-Phillips

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