Views Article – Sharenet Wealth

Australasia, News

Australian shares pare gains on second virus wave concerns

* AU retail sales posts record jump in May

* Material stocks close at lowest level since May 27

* Fears of second wave of coronavirus linger (Updates to close)

By Shreya Mariam Job

June 19 (Reuters) – Australian shares pared sharp early gains to settle a touch higher on Friday as worries about an uptick in coronavirus cases in Beijing and several U.S. states offset optimism stemming from a record rise in domestic retail sales.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended up 0.1% at 5,942.6 points, having gained as much as 1.2% earlier. The benchmark fell 0.9% on Thursday.

The country’s retail sales surged a record 16.3% in May as broader easing of coronavirus lockdowns enabled a recovery from an historic plunge in April.

Grocery chain Coles Group closed up 1.4% at its highest since March 30, while Wesfarmers also gained 1.4%.

“ANZ-observed data show that June expenditure is likely to be similar to late May, and may represent the start of a stabilisation of retail expenditure after some very turbulent months,” ANZ said in a note.

Risk sentiment globally, however, was weighed down by the rising numbers of new coronavirus infections in China, Australia’s largest trading partner, and other parts of the world.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s renewed threats to cut ties with China also dampened investor confidence.

Material stocks shed 1.2% to close at their lowest level since May 27. Shares of heavyweight miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto lost 1.9% and 1.4%, respectively.

Meanwhile, energy stocks rose as much as 1.9% to an over one-week high, supported by firmer oil prices.

The technology sector advanced 1.84%, led by WiseTech Global Ltd, up 7.8%, followed by Altium Ltd , which gained 6.6%.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.3% to finish the session at 11,254.74.

Port of Tauranga Ltd and SKY Network Television Ltd jumped 9.92% and 6.54%, respectively, and were the top percentage gainers on the index. (Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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