Australia shares slip on fears of lockdowns in Europe

Credit: REUTERS/JASON REED

Australian shares closed lower on Tuesday, weighed by miners and bank stocks, as surging coronavirus cases in Europe raised the possibility of further restrictions and stoked fears of an onerous global economic recovery.

By Nikhil Subba

Oct 20 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed lower on Tuesday, weighed by miners and bank stocks, as surging coronavirus cases in Europe raised the possibility of further restrictions and stoked fears of an onerous global economic recovery.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO slid 0.7% to close at 6,184.60, marking its worst session since Oct. 2. The benchmark gained 0.9% on Monday.

Italy approved the shutting of public squares from 9 p.m. and many regions in Spain tightened curbs as COVID-19 cases spiked. Meanwhile, in Britain the government scientific adviser said the country needs to impose a three-week period of national lockdown.

"The virus numbers are pointing to a second wave globally. This may lead to more severe shutdowns and lower economic activity," said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling Stockbroking.

Adding to market uncertainty, U.S. House Speaker said she hoped that by the end of Tuesday there will be "clarity" on whether a coronavirus stimulus bill can be passed before the Nov. 3 presidential election.

"The U.S. stimulus talks are just about out of time. I now believe that neither side wants to make a move before the election outcome," Smoling said.

The Australian financial index .AXJO fell 1.2%, weighed by losses in the "Big Four" banks.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group ANZ.AX, National Australia Bank NAB.AX Commonwealth Bank of Australia CBA.AX and Westpac Banking Corp WBC.AXfell between 1% and 1.4%.

Miners .AXMM fell 1.1%, dragged down by losses in BHP Group BHP.AX Rio Tinto RIO.AX.

In a bright spot, technology stocks .AXIJ gained 1.7% and closed at a record high, boosted by buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay's APT.AX near 6% gain after a partnership with Westpac Banking WBC.AX to offer savings accounts.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 rose 0.62% to 12,462.1.

Top gainers were Serko Ltd SKO.NZ, up 3.6%, followed by Port of Tauranga Ltd POT.NZ, gaining 3.5%.

(Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

((Nikhil.Subba@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging: Nikhil.Subba.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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