Australian shares post biggest drop in nearly 3 months as miners, tech stocks weigh

Australian shares posted their biggest drop in nearly three months on Thursday, hit by mining and tech stocks, while concerns over rising COVID-19 cases derailing an economic recovery also dented sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.9% to end at 7,369.5, its biggest drop since May 19. The benchmark ended 0.2% lower on Wednesday.

The tech index tracked the Nasdaq lower to fall 3.2%, its biggest drop in two months.

Buy now, pay later giant Afterpay fell as much as 3.1% to hit its lowest since Aug. 5, extending losses for a third consecutive session.

“We are seeing a massive sell-off across all the sectors as investors seem to be concerned that the Fed (U.S. Federal Reserve) could further trim its pandemic stimulus program sooner than expected to cushion the blow from the pandemic,” said James Tao, market analyst at CommSec.

Miners were down over 2% and extended losses to a fourth consecutive session following a slump in iron ore prices.

Sector giants BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals fell between 0.6% and 2.5%.

Authorities chalked out plans to open recreational facilities in Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, even as Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that higher case numbers would follow the easing of curbs.

Financials slid 2%, with the ‘Big Four’ banks closing in the red.

Gold stocks fell 1.8% to hit their lowest in six months, as gold prices fell to a near two-week low on firmer dollar.

Wiluna Mining and Dacian Gold led losses on the sub-index, each shedding 4.8%.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.7% to end at 13,095.77, with healthcare and consumer stocks leading declines.

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