(Corrects the closing level of the New Zealand main index to up 0.6% to 12,199.93, not up 0.5% to 12,199.9; Afterpay closed 1.6% higher, not 2.1%)
* U.S. elections eyed, Trump leads in some key states
* CBA, WBC drag financial stocks
* Mining index drops, Fortescue leads decline
Nov 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended little changed on Wednesday after sliding over 1% in the session, as voting projections in the U.S. presidential election showed a close race between Republican Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.1%, or 4.3 points, to 6,062.10, after gaining 1.9% in the previous session.
Shares somewhat tracked a rebound in U.S. stock futures , which became positive after having swung wildly earlier in the day as votes were being counted, the final outcome of which could still take days to determine.
Brad Smoling, managing director of Smoling Stockbroking, said he would hold off making big bets for sometime since this election could be contested leading to a drawn out battle, which may lead to a sharp sell-off in U.S. equities, and in Australia.
In the run up to the elections, Biden had led consistently in polls, but the odds were scaled back after Trump held on to a slim lead in the battleground state of Florida and seemed to be doing better than expected in other key regions.
Biden’s “clean sweep” was expected to bring in a much-needed coronavirus relief bill for the pandemic-ravaged economy within the first days of his administration. In Australia, which has doubled down on fossil fuels and hosts the world’s top mining companies, results are awaited to see what the outcome would mean for energy transition globally as Biden plans to push for climate reforms.
The metals and mining index declined 1.4%, with the world’s fourth biggest iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group declining 4.3%, leading losses.
Larger rivals Rio Tinto and BHP Group slumped 1% and 2%, respectively.
Financial stocks slid 1% to also drag the benchmark.
Shares of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp fell as much as 2.8% each after announcing cuts to their home loans interest rates following the central bank’s move to trim cash rate to a record low on Tuesday.
Tech stocks tracked their Wall Street counterparts higher, with buy-now-pay-later bellwether Afterpay, that has a significant exposure to the U.S. market, closing up 1.6%.
Healthcare index firmed slightly, boosted by a 10% jump in disinfectant device maker Nanosonics Ltd on strong trading update.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index added 0.6%, or 69.62 points, to 12,199.93, led by real estate and healthcare firms. (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)
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