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Australia: Shares fall most since mid-August on coronavirus fears

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The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 2.3 per cent, or 160.70 points, to 6.978.30, its lowest close since Feb 5.

[SYDNEY] Australian shares fell more than 2 per cent on Monday, their biggest since mid-August 2019, as sharp spikes in coronavirus cases outside mainland China deepened worries about a hit to the global economy.

South Korea put the country on high alert while the number of infections jumped to over 700 and deaths rose to seven. In Italy, a third person infected with the flu-like virus died on Sunday, while the number of cases jumped to above 150 from just three before Friday.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 2.3 per cent, or 160.70 points, to 6.978.30, its lowest close since Feb 5.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 1.8 per cent, or 216.22 points, to finish the session at 11,857.12.

REUTERS