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Australia: Shares fall on second-wave coronavirus fears; New Zealand flat

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Australian shares fell on Tuesday as a growing number of new coronavirus cases in the country's most populous state fanned fears of a second wave of infections.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell on Tuesday as a growing number of new coronavirus cases in the country's most populous state fanned fears of a second wave of infections.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.9 per cent to 5,924.6 by 1236 GMT, erasing most of Monday's 1 per cent gain.

New South Wales reported on Monday 14 new cases of Covid-19 at a pub used by freight drivers, right on the heels of a surge in infections in the neighbouring Victoria state, which went back into lockdown last week.

All major sub-indexes were down for the day, with technology stocks leading the decline. The tech sub-index dropped 2.7 per cent, tracking a fall in US peers led by titans including Amazon and Microsoft.

Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay was among the top percentage losers on the benchmark index with a drop of almost 5 per cent.

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The gold sub-index fell 2.5 per cent, led by a 6.3 per cent drop in Dacian Gold, while Alacer Gold Corp lost 5.6 per cent.

Among top performers, Whitehaven Coal jumped about 12 per cent, making it the biggest percentage gainer on the benchmark, after the company posted a 29 per cent jump in quarterly coal production.

Whitehaven Coal shares were also the most heavily traded by volume, with more than 6 million shares changing hands, about six times the 30-day average.

In other news, Westpac Banking Corp, Australia's second-largest lender, named Michael Rowland as its chief financial officer, six months after facing a major money-laundering scandal.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index inched up 0.03 per cent to 11,438.36.

The top percentage loser on the benchmark index was Pushpay Holdings with a drop of 9 per cent, while the top gainer was Investore Property, up 3.2 per cent.

REUTERS

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