* Second quarter sales and wages slip, signal recession
* China to investigate alleged subsidies to Aussie wine
* Huawei ends Australian rugby league team sponsorship
Aug 31 (Reuters) - Australian shares finished lower on
Monday as weak sales and wages data, coupled with growing
diplomatic tensions with China, hit risk appetite despite a
slowdown in coronavirus cases in Victoria.
Australian business reported a drop in second quarter sales
and wages, overshadowing hopes that an end to the country's
lockdown may be in the offing after COVID-19 hotspot Victoria
state said daily fresh cases fell to a near-two-month low.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.2% to 6,060.5 at the
close of trade. The country is set to report its second quarter
GDP figures on Wednesday and is widely expected to confirm its
first recession in three decades.
"Some people are taking the economic data with a grain of
salt and trying to look through the past into the future rather
than focussing on what the data is," said Henry Jennings,
analyst at Marcustoday.
"But the data is not going to be good for sure, we're going
to be confirming the recession that we knew we were in."
Meanwhile, biggest trading partner China launched an
investigation into alleged government subsidies of some
Australian wine imports, while telecom equipment firm Huawei
scrapped a national rugby league team sponsorship amid
escalating tensions between Beijing and Canberra.
The healthcare sub-index was the biggest drag on the
benchmark, with industry heavyweight CSL losing 1.3%
and ASX-listed shares of Resmed shedding 1.6%.
Energy stocks rose 2.1% as oil prices rose on global
stimulus measures and surprisingly strong data from China's
Earlier in the session, IOOF Holdings became the
country's top retail wealth manager after buying National
Australia Bank Ltd's financial advisory arm for $1.1
billion. Trading in IOOF's shares was halted while NAB shares
were little changed at the close of trade.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slid 1.3%
to finish the session at 11,937.56 after data showed business
sentiment in August declined compared to the previous month.
(Reporting by Arpit Nayak in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh