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Australia: Techs drag shares lower as Apple outlook weighs; New Zealand at record high

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Australian shares fell on Tuesday, dragged lower by heavy losses in technology stocks after Apple Inc flagged a revenue miss amid weakening demand and production in China from the coronavirus outbreak.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares fell on Tuesday, dragged lower by heavy losses in technology stocks after Apple Inc flagged a revenue miss amid weakening demand and production in China from the coronavirus outbreak.

The iPhone maker said it will not meet its revenue outlook for the current quarter, as some of its retail stores in China, which supplied 18 per cent of revenue in the year-ago quarter, remain closed or are operating at reduced hours.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.2 per cent at 7,111.8 points, as of 0100 GMT, amid subdued trading as the US markets were closed for a holiday on Monday.

The Australian tech sub-index led the declines, falling 3.3 per cent to its worst session in more than four months.

Among the top decliners was Altium Ltd, losing up to 15.5 per cent to mark its worst day in over seven years on bleak outlook following the outbreak.

"Tech companies in Australia trade on a very solid price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio, so even a small miss would give the stock a good knock-around, and that would appear to be happening with Altium," James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut said.

Meanwhile, worries of economic impact from the outbreak, which has so far killed more than 1,800 people in China, continued to dampen the sentiment.

The uncertainty regarding the exact impact of coronavirus just means that the high P/E stocks will look fragile, Mr McGlew added.

Among other decliners, the healthcare sector fell up to 0.8 per cent, with medical equipment maker Ansell slipping 5.4 per cent, marking its worst session in nearly 18 months, after it flagged impact to earnings from coronavirus and headwinds in the manufacturing sector.

Coles Group fell up to 1.5 per cent after the country's second-biggest grocery chain posted near-flat half-year earnings.

Meanwhile, the country's top two lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp advanced as much as 0.7 per cent and 0.4 per cent, respectively.

The mining sub-index reversed course from earlier in the session to gain up to 0.6 per cent.

The world's biggest miner BHP Group gained 0.6 per cent after a 39 per cent jump in its half-year profit, supported by Chinese demand and high iron ore prices, while smaller rival Rio Tinto added 0.7 per cent.

Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index hit a record high of 11,938.31, rising as much as 0.5 per cent.

Dairy farm a2 Milk and Auckland International Airport were among the top gainers, adding 1.1 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively.

REUTERS