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Australia shares hit 2-mth low on vaccine rollout woes, subdued Wall Street

Stock Markets Feb 01, 2021 12:00
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* Perth case ends Australia's 14-day coronavirus-free streak

* Benchmark set for fourth straight session in the red

* Energy stocks hit over one-month low

By Arpit Nayak

Feb 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares touched a two-month low on Monday, hit by concerns over coronavirus vaccine rollouts and a sluggish economic recovery, following a Wall Street rout last week due to a clash between hedge funds and retail investors.

Falling for the fourth straight session, the S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO slid 0.7% to 6,561.8 at 0019 GMT, its lowest since Dec. 1.

The country reported its first locally-acquired COVID-19 case in Perth after two weeks, leading to a five-day lockdown on the city. was also dented after drugmaker Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ)'s JNJ.N vaccine was shown to be less effective than peers in preventing the virus. .N

"We're still in the middle of a pandemic and the vaccine situation isn't as swift and as effective as a lot of people had hoped," said Nick Twidale, chief executive officer - APAC at FP Markets.

Global markets have been spooked since retail traders went on a social media-fuelled buying frenzy last week, driving up prices of stocks that were heavily bet against by Wall Street hedge funds. miners and financials have had good runs and will likely bear the brunt of any uncertainty that comes through as investors realise vaccines may take longer than expected to have an impact, Twidale added.

Financials .AXFJ shed as much as 2.2% to be the biggest drags on the benchmark, with the "Big Four" banks losing between 1.8% and 2.9%.

Industry giants Woodside Petroleum WPL.AX and Santos STO.AX led losses on the energy sub-index .AXEJ hitting a one-month low on subdued oil prices. O/R

Silver miners, including Argent Minerals ARD.AX and Boab Metals BML.AX , raked in hefty gains as retail investors rushed towards stocks linked to the precious metal and drove up commodity prices. GOL/

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 fell 0.8% to 13,021.01, with financials and utilities being the worst performers.

Australia shares hit 2-mth low on vaccine rollout woes, subdued Wall Street
 

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