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Australia: Shares end lower as virus spike forces stringent curbs

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[SYDNEY] Australian shares closed lower on Monday, snapping four straight sessions of gains, as a spike in domestic cases of the novel coronavirus forced fresh restrictions and renewed fears of further economic pain.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.7 per cent lower at 6,014.6. For the year so far, the index has shed 9.37 per cent.

On Monday, the border between Victoria and New South Wales was closed for the first time in 100 years to contain a Covid-19 outbreak in Melbourne. Victoria reported 127 new infections overnight, its biggest one-day spike since the pandemic began.

"Investors in the Australian market seem to be cautious about the upsurge in infections and want it to be under control, unlike in the US where an increase in cases does not seem to be weighing on sentiment as much", said Henry Jennings, senior analyst at Marcustoday Financial.

The border closures come a day ahead of a Reserve Bank of Australia policy meet, where it is expected to hold the cash rate.

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Among sectors, miners fell 1.2 per cent led by BlueScope Steel Ltd that fell 3.25 per cent after Morgan Stanley downgraded its rating and cut price target on the stock.

The number of issues on the ASX that advanced were 851, while 696 declined.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.8 per cent, helped by gains among utility stocks like Meridian Energy that rose 2.6 per cent.

REUTERS

 

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