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Australia: Shares post biggest weekly drop in six months on mixed cues

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Australian shares ended lower on Friday to post their worst week since April-end, as investors refrained from placing big bets ahead of the US presidential election and on concerns that fresh lockdowns would derail global economic recovery.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares ended lower on Friday to post their worst week since April-end, as investors refrained from placing big bets ahead of the US presidential election and on concerns that fresh lockdowns would derail global economic recovery.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.6 per cent lower at 5,927.60, following a 0.3 per cent slide on Thursday. The benchmark fell 3.9 per cent this week, posting its biggest weekly drop since April 24.

Record numbers of coronavirus cases worldwide and the Nov 3 US presidential election remained the major factors looming ahead for investors. On Wednesday, global coronavirus cases rose by over 500,000 for the first time as France and Germany prepped fresh lockdowns.

"The US elections' possible outcome and the length of delay in stimulus are at the forefront of the markets focus right now," said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking.

"With a full moon rising and Halloween this weekend, it makes a good backdrop for anything to happen."

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Australian tech stocks tumbled 2 per cent to its lowest close since Oct 9, with fintech firm EML Payments losing 5.6 per cent and machine learning company Appen shedding 3.8 per cent.

The healthcare sub-index slid 1.2 per cent, with industry major CSL declining 1.4 per cent and Healius falling 3.4 per cent.

Bucking the sombre mood, financial stocks added 0.4 per cent to the index after earlier marking their best day in more than two weeks, largely due to troubled wealth manager AMP's 19.5 per cent surge.

AMP saw its biggest session in 17 years and topped the benchmark after US-based Ares Management made a non-binding acquisition offer, which local media says could be valued about A$5 billion (S$4.81 billion).

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slid 1 per cent to 12,084.47, dragged by Fisher & Paykel Healthcare's 5.4 per cent fall and Kathmandu Holdings's 3.3 per cent drop. The benchmark lost 1 per cent on the week.

REUTERS

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