for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up
Company News

Australian shares end lower on prolonged economic recovery fears

* Westpac slips as much as 2.4%

* Afterpay sheds over 6%; CFO exits

* Energy stocks drop most in over 2 weeks (Updates to close)

Sept 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed nearly 1% lower on Thursday, tracking declines on Wall Street, as fresh economic data from the United States cast doubts about a global recovery and hurt local stocks of energy and tech companies.

The benchmark ASX 200 index closed 0.8% lower at 5,875.9. The index had risen the most in more than two months in the previous session.

Data showed U.S. business activity fell in September, while a separate survey revealed business growth in the Eurozone grounded to a halt. Both the sets of data raised worries about global growth.

The fears dragged global oil prices, with Beach Energy and Oil Search leading the declines among Australia’s energy stocks. Top gas producer Woodside Petroleum fell 2%.

James Tao, a market analyst at CommSec, said any worries over the U.S. recovery “is not a good sign,” adding that growth worries in Europe on top of COVID-19 spell trouble for a market that has rallied on hopes of an economic improvement.

Tech stocks were the among the top losers, with Afterpay shedding more than 6% after it announced the departure of its chief financial officer.

A fall in Westpac Banking Corp also weighed after it agreed to pay a A$1.3-billion ($915.07 million) fine. But the stock trimmed losses later as some investors saw the fine marking an end to 10 long months of uncertainty.

Among its “Big Four” peers, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group and National Australia Bank gained 0.1%-0.4% , while the Commonwealth Bank of Australia lost 0.1%.

In New Zealand, the benchmark NZX 50 index edged 0.1% lower.

Telecom services provider Chorus was the biggest percentage laggard on the benchmark, ending lower for a fourth straight session.

$1 = 1.4207 Australian dollars Reporting by Deepali Saxena; editing by Uttaresh.V

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up