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Australasia, News

Australia shares suffer worst day in nearly 2 months on virus resurgence

* Tech, energy stocks biggest losers on Aussie benchmark

* Software maker Nuix slumps on weak FY21 forecast

* NZ stocks decline more than 1% (Updates to close)

By Vasudha Kaukuntla

April 21 (Reuters) – Australian shares on Wednesday recorded their worst session in nearly two months, with travel stocks declining significantly, as investors refrained from placing big bets on concerns over a global spike in COVID-19 infections.

The S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.3% to 6997.40 at the close of trade to end lower for the second consecutive day.

Asian shares and U.S. stock futures slipped as worries over resurgent cases, particularly in India, stoked fears about global growth and demand for commodities such as oil.

New Zealand authorities also reported that a worker at Auckland airport had tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, just a day after opening a travel bubble with Australia.

“COVID numbers in India and other countries are still a very big concern for the global economy,” Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking said.

“There is also a larger percentage of retail investors in equity markets now and this increases the volatility.”

Australian travel-related stocks dropped, with Qantas Airways declining 1.4% and Flight Centre Travel dropping 1.9%.

Tech stocks slumped 1.9% and ended lower for a third straight day. Software maker Nuix Ltd gave up 15.4% after the company slashed its forecast for annual revenue and contracts.

Energy stocks and miners lost 1.5% and 0.5%, respectively, as commodity prices were also jolted by concerns around rising infections.

BHP fell to a one-month low after the mining heavyweight reported lower third-quarter iron ore output and cut its production forecast for some divisions.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slid 1.1% to end the session at 12,535.34.

The country’s consumer price index outpaced expectations in the first quarter, data showed, though economists said the rise was not yet enough for the central bank to consider raising interest rates. (Reporting by Vasudha Kaukuntla in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)


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