Australia shares slip for 6th day, fallout from Ukraine conflict weighs

Reuters - UK Focus

* ASX 200 eases for sixth session as Russia bans Westernimports

* 39 shares higher, 149 shares lower, 13 shares unchanged

* Big name banks, miners and food grocers lower (Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)

By Thuy Ong and Gyles Beckford

SYDNEY/WELLINGTON, August 8 (Reuters) - Australian sharesretreated further from three-week lows on Friday, after WallStreet extended its losses on concerns the tensions betweenRussia and the West and tit-for-tat sanctions may hit globalgrowth.

Moscow banned imports of most food from the West on Thursdayin retaliation against sanctions over Ukraine, a stronger thanexpected measure that isolates Russian consumers from worldtrade to a degree unseen since Soviet days.

"The sanctions are likely to impact countries like Australiathe most as agricultural exports are among the top 5 exports,"said Evan Lucas, IG (LSE: IGG.L - news) 's market strategist in a note to clients.

In the food and grocery sector, Wesfarmers Ltd slipped 0.6 percent, and rival Woolworths Ltd gave up0.7 percent. Goodman Fielder Ltd (Other OTC: GDFLF - news) lost 0.4 percent.

Big name banks lost ground for a second day, with NationalAustralia Bank down 1.2 percent and Westpac BankingCorp declining 0.8 percent.

The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 0.8 percent, or 44 pointsto 5,462.8 by 0213 GMT to mark the sixth consecutive day in thered, its longest losing streak since early-December.

The market eased 0.1 percent on Thursday and is set to shaveoff 1.7 percent for the week, its biggest one-week loss sincemid-March.

The benchmark hit a six-year high of 5,644.2 on July 31, buthas declined nearly 200 points as investors fretted aboutescalating geopolitical tensions from the conflict in Ukraineand Gaza.

Gold prices rose as safe-haven buying amid rising tensionsin Iraq and Ukraine extended the previous session's rally.

This helped limit the broader market losses as BeadellResources Ltd soared 5.5 percent, while Australia's topgold producer Newcrest Mining Ltd climbed 2 percent.

World no. 2 miner Rio Tinto Ltd (Xetra: 855018 - news) edged 0.1 percenthigher after topping market forecasts with a 21 percent rise infirst-half profit.

News Corp (Other OTC: NWSAL - news) lost 2.5 percent to June lows of A$17.92as revenue in the company's news and information division fell6.2 percent to $1.56 billion.

Elsewhere, Australia's central bank on Friday stuck to itsmantra of keeping interest rates steady at a record low for sometime yet, and played down a shock jump in July's jobless rate toa 12-year high saying there has been significant volatility asof late.

New Zealand stocks were on the backfoot with the benchmarkNZX 50 index flirting with four month lows, down 0.5percent to 5,070.7.

There were modest losses for leading stocks, includingFletcher Building (NZSE: FBU.NZ - news) and Spark NZ, the formerTelecom Corp, which changed its name on Friday.

Software (Xetra: 330400 - news) company Diligent Ltd gained 2.9 percent toNZ$4.32, a six-week high, after it reported a lift in secondquarter revenue and raised its full year forecast. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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