Company News

Australian shares inch lower on virus, U.S. stimulus worries

* Afterpay jumps nearly 5% on strong Q1 results

* ANZ sees $376 million hit to H2 earnings

* Financial index hits over two-week low

Oct 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged lower on Wednesday due to waning prospects of a U.S. stimulus deal and rising global cases of the novel coronavirus, although gains in local healthcare and tech stocks limited the benchmark’s losses.

The S&P/ASX 200 index dipped 0.1% to 6,047.6 by 0017 GMT, weighed down by financials and energy sub-indexes. The benchmark lost 1.7% on Tuesday.

Overnight, Wall Street closed lower after U.S. President Donald Trump acknowledged the much-needed COVID-19 stimulus, the cause of intense market volatility these past few weeks, would likely come after the Nov. 3 election,

Denting sentiment further, global cases of COVID-19 crossed 43.61 million, with the death toll at 1,160,278, a Reuters tally showed. In the United States, the disease has killed more than 225,000 and infected more than 8.7 million people.

Australia’s heavyweight financial sub-index index fell 1% to lead losses and hit a two-week low. Australia and New Zealand Banking Group’s shares were the biggest drag.

Shares of the country’s third largest lender slid 2.7% on revealing a $376 million hit to second-half earnings.

The other three of the “Big Four” banks traded 1.4% to 1.7% lower.

The ASX 200 Energy index fell 1.5%. Electricity retailer Origin Energy Ltd led the decline with its 2.6% fall, and fuel refiner Ampol Ltd dropped 2.3%.

The healthcare and tech indexes firmed 1.2% and 2.2%, respectively, to counter some of the losses on the benchmark.

Shares of medical device maker Resmed Inc jumped 4.3% to power healthcare stocks a day before the U.S.-based company’s quarterly results where it’s expected to record a jump in revenue.

Meanwhile, buy-now-pay-later favourite Afterpay Ltd’s stellar first-quarter results boosted its stock price by nearly 5%.

New Zealand’s benchmark gained 0.4% or 57.9 points to 12,309.8.

Gains were driven by healthcare firms Fisher and Paykel Healthcare Corp Ltd and Oceania Healthcare Ltd , advancing 4.6% and 1.4%, respectively. (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)