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Australia: Shares track global markets lower; tech stocks shine
[BENGALURU] Australian shares followed global markets lower on Tuesday as record daily coronavirus infections in Europe fuelled fears of more severe lockdowns, with mining, financials and energy stock leading the retreat.
However, losses were checked by technology stocks as buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay jumped past the A$100 mark for the first time after announcing a deal with Westpac Banking Corp to offer savings accounts and budgeting tools.
The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 0.3 per cent, or 18.600 points, to 6,210.10 by 0139 GMT, as global risk sentiment took a hit after parts of the UK and Spain went into lockdown while France imposed curfews to contain a surge in Covid-19 cases.
On Monday, the benchmark had gained 0.9 per cent Afterpay jumped 5 per cent to top the benchmark index, helping the tech sub-index rally nearly 3 per cent to hit an all-time high.
Among other gainers on the IT index, data centre services provider NEXTDC rose 1.6 per cent and software maker WiseTech Global added about 2 per cent.
The metals and mining index fell 0.4 per cent in its worst intraday drop in nearly two weeks.
BHP Group Ltd slipped 0.7 per cent, despite reporting a 7 per cent rise in first-quarter iron ore output, as weak metal prices pressured global miners.
Rival Rio Tinto was 0.3 per cent lower.
Financials eased 0.4 per cent with Westpac and National Australia Bank, two of the "Big Four" lenders, dropping 0.9 per cent and 0.1 per cent, respectively.
The ASX 200 energy index fell 0.3 per cent, led by petroleum refiner Viva Energy Group, down 2.7 per cent, and Whitehaven Coal, losing 1.5 per cent.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3 per cent to 12,417.1.
Among the top percentage gainers on the index, marine port services provider Port of Tauranga rose 2.7 per cent and Infratil advanced 1.8 per cent.