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Australasia, News

Australian shares reverse early gains as miners track copper prices lower

* Miners see worst session in more than a week

* Gold stocks down for fourth straight session

* AGL Energy down after setback to LNG jetty plan

By Aditya Munjuluru

March 30 (Reuters) – Australian shares gave up early gains on Tuesday to trade lower as heavyweight miners declined in tandem with copper prices, although a bounce-back in technology stocks limited losses.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.3% to 6,781.00 by 0122 GMT, after rising 0.5% earlier in the day. It had closed 0.4% lower on Monday.

Overnight, the S&P 500 closed slightly lower, with banks falling amid warnings of potential losses from a hedge fund’s default on margin calls, while economic optimism limited the day’s declines. S&P 500 E-minis futures were down 0.25 points, or 0.01%, on Tuesday.

Copper prices slid on Monday as worries about higher freight costs receded after a container ship blocking traffic in the Suez Canal was refloated.

Mining stocks in Australia fell 1.3% in their biggest intraday percentage drop in more than a week, with BHP Group down 1.4% and Rio Tinto falling 2.4%. Both companies have significant exposure to copper mining.

Gold stocks slid 1.2% after bullion prices fell overnight on a stronger U.S. dollar and yields. Ramelius Resources Ltd fell 3.5%, Chalice Mining Ltd shed 3% and Newcrest Mining declined about 1%.

Financials stocks also dipped, with the country’s “Big Four” banks shedding between 0.3% and 1%.

AGL Energy slipped, as the power producer said it was assessing its options after a state minister found that its planned liquefied natural gas import jetty at Crib Point in Victoria would have unacceptable environmental effects.

Earlier in the day, the company said it would split itself into two separate businesses in a bid to change strategy and reverse a steep share price slump it has faced.

Technology stocks rose 1.3% after a near 2.8% drop on Monday. Sector heavyweight Afterpay climbed 1.4%, while WiseTech gained 3.3%.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged up 0.1% to 12,381.6.

The top percentage gainers on the benchmark index were Synlait Milk, up 3%, and Scales Corp, adding 1.3%. (Reporting by Aditya Munjuluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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