May 13, 2020 / 1:26 AM / 18 days ago

Australia, NZ shares tumble on fears of virus resurgence as economies reopen

* ASX benchmark at over one-week low

* CBA falls after posting 25% slump in qtrly profit

* NZ cash rate decision due later in the day

By Nikhil Subba

May 13 (Reuters) - Australian shares extended losses for a second session on Wednesday as investors feared the decision to reopen businesses from the lockdown would lead to a second wave of coronavirus outbreaks and set back economic recovery.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 1.27% at 5,334.3 points, as of 0057 GMT. The benchmark settled 1.07% lower on Tuesday.

Leading U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci warned that the virus was not yet under control and that there would not likely be a treatment or vaccine in place by late August or early September.

Investors also maintained a cautious stance ahead of Australia’s first-quarter wage growth data, while New Zealand’s cash rate decision is due later in the day.

Leading the fall on the Australian benchmark, energy stocks shed over 3% to hit its lowest since May 5, despite a rise in oil prices.

Santos fell as much as 3.$%, while Oil Search dropped nearly 3%.

Healthcare stocks slid as much as 2.3%, hitting a low of more than two weeks. Heavyweight drugmaker CSL Ltd fell up to 2.5%, while medical services provider Healius tumbled 4.5% to a three-week low.

Financials shed about 2% to mark its lowest since May 4, with all the “Big Four” trading in negative territory.

Shares of top lender Commonwealth Australia Bank weakened 1.5% after the lender reported a 25% slump in quarterly profit and announced more provisions to cover credit losses arising from the COVID-19 crisis.

The turmoil relating to worries of another wave of coronavirus, drove investors scurrying over to safe-haven assets. Gold stocks bucked the trend to rise as much as 0.5%, helped by Alacer Gold that climbed nearly 8%, and Oceanagold’s 3% gain.

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped nearly 1.2% to 10,692.09.

The top percentage losers on the were Skycity Entertainment Group and Fletcher Building Ltd with each dropping about 4%. (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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