January 29, 2019 / 1:23 AM / 3 months ago

Australia shares slip on China growth worries; NZ down

* Energy shares dive on supply glut concerns

* Healthcare, financial stocks down over 2 pct, at 2-week lows

* Miners at 16-week high, iron ore prices jump after dam disaster

By Rashmi Ashok

Jan 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped on Tuesday, tracking sharp losses on Wall Street after Caterpillar and Nvidia Corp warned of weak Chinese demand, with robust gains in miners offset by declines in financial and energy firms.

Global stocks wobbled after U.S. industrial bellwether Caterpillar and chip maker Nvidia Corp flagged softer Chinese demand, renewing investor worries about a slump in the world's second-largest economy.

"Once again concerns about growth outlook have reared their head...at the moment focus remains on the trade discussions scheduled later this week between U.S. and China," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.

He also added that the upcoming U.S. Federal Reserve meeting, key inflation data for Australia on Wednesday and bulk of U.S. and Australian earnings over the next week were weighing on risk sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index shed 0.6 percent or 36 points to 5,869.6 by 0026 GMT. The benchmark rose 0.7 percent on Friday, as markets were shut on Monday to mark Australia Day.

Meanwhile, energy stocks took a battering as oil dropped about 3 percent on Monday after an increase in U.S. rigs drilling for oil indicated further growth in supplies while there were still persistent concerns about global demand.

Sector heavyweight Woodside Petroleum Ltd lost nearly 1 percent while Santos Ltd gave up about 1.6 percent.

Financial stocks tumbled 1.6 percent, with the country's "Big Four" lenders trading in a range of between 1.4 percent and 2.2 percent lower.

Healthcare stocks also plummeted 2.1 percent to a two-week low, with CSL Ltd and Cochlear Ltd each losing 1.7 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Nvidia Corp's woes seemed to weigh heavily on technology stocks, with the sub-index shedding 1.3 percent. Afterpay Touch Group was the top loser, down more than 2 percent.

Meanwhile, losses were capped by strong gains on the metals and mining index which surged 2.4 percent to a 16-week high.

Chinese iron ore futures soared to a 16-month peak on Monday, after a deadly tailings dam collapse led Brazil's mining agency to order Vale SA - the world's biggest iron ore producer - to halt operations at its Corrego do Feijao mine.

Mining behemoth BHP Group jumped as much as 2.2 percent while rival Rio Tinto Ltd rose 3 percent.

Meanwhile, gold stocks retained their sheen, rising 3.5 percent after the safe haven metal steadied on Monday, near a seven-month peak scaled in the previous session.

On the downside, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index shed 0.3 percent or 31.76 points to 9,082.76.

Dairy firm a2 Milk Company Ltd and Fonterra Shareholders' Fund both edged lower.

Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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