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Australia: Shares slip as US and Europe Covid-19 cases jump


[SYDNEY] Australian shares dipped on Monday, with gold stocks leading losses, as a record rise in coronavirus cases in the United States and parts of Europe made investors nervous about a global economic recovery.

The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.2 per cent to close at 6,159.20. The benchmark fell 0.1 per cent on Friday.

The United States saw its highest ever number of new Covid-19 cases on Friday and Saturday, with a Reuters tally showing hospitalisations are also rising and have hit a two-month high and deaths are trending upwards.

France registered a record rise in coronavirus infections on Sunday as a second wave of cases surges through Europe.

"The outlook is not great in terms of US & European Covid-19 cases... it could lead to more restrictions that could restrict economic activity and hamper the recovery," said James Tao, market analyst at CommSec.

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Sentiment was also weighed by uncertainty over the timeline of the US coronavirus relief package, which swung global indexes all through last week, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump stuck in a deadlock over negotiations.

"It looks like it's (US stimulus) going to be a prolonged process that could be uncertain for a number of weeks. I think markets are beginning to worry about it," said Mathan Somasundaram, chief executive of Deep Data Analytics.

Limiting losses in markets, Australia's second-most populous state, Victoria said on Monday it had gone 24 hours without detecting any new Covid-19 cases, raising hopes that a stringent lockdown of Melbourne will be eased.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index finished up 0.5 per cent at 12,470.34.


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