January 30, 2020 / 1:17 AM / a month ago

Australian shares edge lower on mining stocks, rising virus death toll

* Newcrest drops 5% after bushfires, shutdowns hit output

* Treasury Wine rises after Wednesday’s sharp decline

* Fortescue reports higher shipments, but shares fall

Jan 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares inched lower on Thursday as a weaker production report from Newcrest Mining dragged down fellow miners and a sharp rise in China’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak kept investors on the edge.

The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.2%, 13.1 points, to 7,018.4 by 0116 GMT, after a 0.5% gain on Wednesday.

With the death toll rising by 38 to 170 as of end-Wednesday and countries scrambling to get ahead of the spread of the virus, the World Health Organisation voiced “grave concern” about the situation but fell short of declaring it a global emergency.

“Markets seem to have adjusted to what is known now, although they will stay responsive to further developments,” said Michael McCarthy, the chief strategist at CMC Markets and Stockbroking.

He said there was not enough new news for markets to react to, but “we simply don’t know enough to rule out a broader impact.”

Shares of Newcrest Mining fell 5.1% after the company reported a lower quarterly gold output due to shutdowns and recent bushfires.

The sharp drop in Australia’s top gold miner weighed heavily on its peers, sending the gold index down nearly 2%.

Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group declined nearly 3%. It, however, reported a 9% jump in its second-quarter shipments on resilient demand from China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Shares of Nearmap Ltd skidded 24.6% after the aerial imagery firm said it lost some of its customers in the United States.

Treasury Wine Estates rose 5.3%, recovering from its biggest ever fall on Wednesday. McCarthy called the drop “overdone”.

In other news, Commonwealth Bank of Australia raised its stake in buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) company Klarna as it launched the Swedish company in Australia.

It marked the entry of the country’s biggest bank into the fast-growing and increasingly popular BNPL space. Industry bellwether Afterpay Ltd was flat.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index advanced 0.2% to 11,702.02.

Meridian Energy and Spark New Zealand were among the top gainers, rising 1.2% and 1.1%, respectively.

For more individual stocks activity click on (Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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