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Australia: Shares extend losses as virus fears linger; NZ down

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The S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 1.6 per cent at 6,866.70, after tumbling as much as 2.6 per cent in early trading.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares on Tuesday added to the heavy losses in the previous session as investors remained on edge over the rapid spread of the coronavirus outside China and its impact on global economic growth.

Sentiment was also hit after Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that his government might be unable to deliver Australia's first budget surplus in over a decade due to the economic impact of the outbreak.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 1.6 per cent at 6,866.70, after tumbling as much as 2.6 per cent in early trading. The benchmark declined 2.3 per cent on Monday.

Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Afghanistan and Iraq reported their first virus cases, while Italy and South Korea struggled with a jump in the number of coronavirus cases.

"There were also jitters that any pandemic-type spread could cripple global supply chains and wreak far greater economic damage than initially forecasted," analysts at Phillip Futures said in a note.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index shed 1.2 per cent, or 137.89 points, to finish the session at 11,719.23.

REUTERS