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Australia: Shares slip on fears of lockdowns in Europe

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Australian shares closed lower on Tuesday, weighed by miners and bank stocks, as surging coronavirus cases in Europe raised the possibility of further restrictions and stoked fears of an onerous global economic recovery.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares closed lower on Tuesday, weighed by miners and bank stocks, as surging coronavirus cases in Europe raised the possibility of further restrictions and stoked fears of an onerous global economic recovery.

The S&P/ASX 200 index slid 0.7 per cent to close at 6,184.60, marking its worst session since Oct 2. The benchmark gained 0.9 per cent on Monday.

Italy approved the shutting of public squares from 9pm and many regions in Spain tightened curbs as Covid-19 cases spiked. Meanwhile, in Britain the government scientific adviser said the country needs to impose a three-week period of national lockdown.

"The virus numbers are pointing to a second wave globally.

"This may lead to more severe shutdowns and lower economic activity," said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking.

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Adding to market uncertainty, US House Speaker said she hoped that by the end of Tuesday there will be "clarity" on whether a coronavirus stimulus bill can be passed before the Nov 3 presidential election.

"The US stimulus talks are just about out of time. I now believe that neither side wants to make a move before the election outcome," Mr Smoling said.

The Australian financial index fell 1.2 per cent, weighed by losses in the "Big Four" banks.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, National Australia Bank Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking fell between 1 per cent and 1.4 per cent.

Miners fell 1.1 per cent, dragged down by losses in BHP Group Rio Tinto.

In a bright spot, technology stocks gained 1.7 per cent and closed at a record high, boosted by buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay's near 6 per cent gain after a partnership with Westpac Banking to offer savings accounts.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.62 per cent to 12,462.1.

Top gainers were Serko, up 3.6 per cent, followed by Port of Tauranga, gaining 3.5 per cent.

REUTERS

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