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Australia: Shares dip as healthcare stocks weigh but miners cap losses

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Australian shares edged lower on Tuesday as losses among heavyweight healthcare stocks outweighed gains in the mining sector.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares edged lower on Tuesday as losses among heavyweight healthcare stocks outweighed gains in the mining sector.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was trading at 6,576.1 by 0215 GMT, down 0.2 per cent, following a negative lead from the United States. The index had gained 0.1 per cent on Monday.

US stocks dropped in a broad sell-off overnight as tensions, including the Sino-US trade war and Argentina's peso crash, spooked equity investors and sent them to the relative safety of gold or bonds.

Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets Australia, said there was a big lift in trading volumes after several Asian markets were closed for holidays on Monday.

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"The surge in volume suggests we are seeing dip buyers moving into the market," Mr McCarthy said.

Heavyweight biotechnology company CSL fell 2 per cent. Elsewhere in the sector, Cochlear dropped 3 per cent and Mayne Pharma Group fell 3.1 per cent.

Iron ore miners, which have come under pressure from falling prices, bounced back from losses in the previous session with Fortescue Metals Group leading the gains.

Fortescue rose as much as 4 per cent, while top miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto each added 0.2 per cent.

Mr McCarthy said the gains in the sector appeared to be due to support from day traders, adding he wasn't "seeing much evidence that this is investment related".

On Monday, upbeat corporate earnings helped the index eke out a fourth straight session of gains, but some investors seem to be unwinding those positions on Tuesday. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Ansell and JB Hi-Fi all fell a day after reporting results.

Fund manager Challenger jumped 11.2 per cent as it maintained its fiscal 2020 earnings forecast and reported flat full-year profit.

Elsewhere, Westpac Banking Corp outperformed its peers, rising 0.4 per cent, after an Australian court dismissed a case by the corporate regulator against the bank. The regulator had claimed the country's second-largest lender used inappropriate standards to approve thousands of mortgages.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.3 per cent, or 30.36 points to 10,842.38.

Auckland International Airport fell 1.6 per cent while Chorus dropped 2 per cent.

REUTERS