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Company News

Australia shares fall over 1% as data signals slow global recovery

* Westpac to pay A$1.3 bln to settle case filed by AUSTRAC

* Afterpay sees worst day since Sept. 17 after CFO departs

* Gold index at near one-month low as bullion prices fall

Sept 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell more than 1% on Thursday, as concerns about the global economic recovery escalated after data showed that business activity in the United States and Europe cooled this month due to new restrictions to quell the coronavirus.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.6% to 5,831.30 by 0016 GMT, on track for its worst session since Sept. 9. The benchmark closed 2.4% firmer on Wednesday.

Wall Street indexes fell sharply overnight after data showed a loss of momentum in the U.S. economy during September, amid rising concerns about a potential surge in COVID-19 cases as countries head into colder months.

Additionally, a survey showed that business growth in the Euro zone ground to a halt in September, throwing economic recovery into question, as fresh restrictions to quell a resurgence in coronavirus infections slammed the services industry into reverse.

Australia’s gold index tumbled as much as 4.4% to its lowest level since Aug. 28, as bullion prices touched a more-than-two-month low.

OceanaGold Corp declined 7.8% to its lowest since May 5, while Red 5 Ltd lost more than 9%.

The broader mining index fell 2.3% to its lowest since July 7, with mining giants BHP Group and Rio Tinto each dropping more than 1%.

Technology stocks fell 2.6% and were set for their worst session in a week.

Buy-now-pay-later firm Afterpay fell 4.5% to mark its biggest intraday drop since Sept. 17, after Chief Fianancial Officer (CFO) Luke Bortoli said he will leave the company after three years in the role.

The financial index fell nearly 2% in its worst session since Sept. 9, with all the “Big Four” banks down more than 1%.

Westpac Banking Corp, which fell as much as 2.4%, said it would pay A$1.3 billion ($920 million) to settle a case filed by the country’s financial crimes watchdog against the lender for breaching anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dipped 0.17% to 11,684.8.

Top percentage losers were Serko Ltd, down 3.17%, followed by Chorus Ltd, which lost 2.04%. (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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