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Australia: Shares edge lower as Sino-US friction weighs; New Zealand up

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Australian shares fell on Wednesday, as developments on the Sino-U.S. diplomatic tiff over Hong Kong dampened sentiment and cancelled out any boost from easing lockdown restrictions and the resumption of normal activity.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell on Wednesday, as developments on the Sino-U.S. diplomatic tiff over Hong Kong dampened sentiment and cancelled out any boost from easing lockdown restrictions and the resumption of normal activity.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.48 per cent at 5,752.3 points, as of 0041 GMT. The benchmark ended 2.9 per cent firmer on Tuesday.

Casting darker shadows over the US-China ties were reports that Washington was working on a strong response to Beijing's planned national security legislation for Hong Kong and that it would be announced before the end of the week.

Miners were the biggest drag on the benchmark, shedding 3.4 per cent with shares of heavyweights BHP Group and Rio Tinto declining 2.9 per cent and 3.2 per cent, respectively.

Gold stocks dropped 5.4 per cent, led by Northern Star Resources, down 7.05 per cent, followed by Saracen Mineral Holdings that lost 6.93 per cent.

Overnight gold prices had taken a blow as widening risk appetite saw investors pulling back from safe havens. Spot gold prices, however, traded flat on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, financials rose 2.62 per cent on the back of gains in National Australia Bank.

Shares of the country's third-largest lender rose 4.9 per cent after the bank increased its capital raising plan by A$750 million, supported by strong interest from shareholders.

Meanwhile, Virgin Money UK PLC added 8.86 per cent and was among the top percentage gainers in the benchmark. In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.37 per cent to 10,955 after comments from the central bank boosted financial stocks.

New Zealand's Central Bank said the financial system is in a solid position to weather the significant economic impact caused by the pandemic and support the country's recovery.

NZ-listed shares of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and Westpac Banking Corp were the top gainers on the bourse advancing 5.08 per cent and 4.62 per cent, respectively.

REUTERS

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