Australia shares capped on US-China tension

Australia’s benchmark share index rose on Thursday, led by telecom stocks. However, gains were capped due to rising US-China tensions

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.4%, while the benchmark fell 0.4% on Wednesday.

Material stocks were 1.1% lower, as shares of Rio Tinto Ltd and BHP Billiton PLC (SA) group dropped 0.5% and 0.6%.

Energy stocks climbed 0.9% on the back of oil futures gaining 1% on Wednesday. Energy stocks were boosted by a drawdown in US crude stockpiles, while shares of Woodside Petroleum and Santos Ltd rose 1.1% and 1.4%,

US-China trade tensions

Australian stock gains were capped on Thursday as rising concerns over US-China tensions continue.

It comes after US president Donald Trump said he would keep tariffs on Chinese imports. Beijing announced it would retaliate if Washington hikes tariffs planned on Friday.

Investors remain cautious to see if a deal can be reached and avoid any escalation.

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that China "broke the deal" it had reached in trade talks. The US Trade Representative's office announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would increase to 25% from 10% at 12:01 a.m. (0401) GMT on Friday.

‘I just announced that we’ll increase tariffs on China and we won’t back down until China stops cheating our workers and stealing our jobs, and that’s what’s going to happen, otherwise we don’t have to do business with them,’ Trump told a crowd at a rally in Florida on Wednesday.

Telecom shares

Meanwhile, shares of TPG Telecom Ltd rose 2.3%, while Telecom giant, Telstra Corp Ltd. also posted a 2.4% gain. TPG Telecom recovered some of its losses from the previous session, when shares took a hit after Australia's anti-trust regulator blocked a A$15 billion ($11 billion) merger between TPG Telecom and Vodafone's Australian joint venture on competition grounds on Wednesday.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was little changed rising 0.04 % or 3.99 points to 10,067.04.

It comes after The Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) lowered the official cash rate to an all-time trough of 1.50% on Wednesday. The central bank governor cited a slowing in global economic growth as the reason the bank cut its official cash rate.

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