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Australian shares drop over 1% on BHP losses, COVID-19 worries

09/01/2021 | 09:23pm EDT

Sept 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares saw their biggest fall in about one-and-a-half months on Thursday, hurt by a slide in global miner BHP Group Ltd and other mining stocks, with persisting worries around the coronavirus denting sentiment further.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.1% to 7,444.3 by 0046 GMT and was set to decline for a second straight day.

Miners, down 3.1%, extended their losses for a third straight day and hit their lowest in one-and-a-half weeks.

BHP Group Ltd, which is presently trading ex-dividend, dropped as much as 7.4% to notch its biggest one-day drop since May 1, 2020.

The world's biggest miner on Aug. 17 said it will pay a final dividend of $2 (A$2.71) per share, totalling $10.1 billion.

Weighing on miners further were weaker iron ore prices, with Rio Tinto Ltd and Evolution Mining falling 0.7% and 1.5%, respectively.

Biotechnology company CSL Ltd and Australia's biggest supermarket chain Woolworths Group, which are both trading ex-dividend, dropped 2% and 2.2%, respectively.

Meanwhile, Australian authorities extended on Wednesday a lockdown in the country's second most populous city, Melbourne, for another three weeks, shifting their focus to rapid vaccination drives.

Among other stocks and sectors, the gold index fell, with Ora Banda Mining Ltd shedding 5% and Geopacific Resources losing as much as 6.3%.

Heavyweight financials dropped 0.4%, with health insurer NIB Holdings dropping 2.7% and wealth manager Perpetual Ltd down 2.3%.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was down 0.3% at 13,206.21, dragged by industrials and healthcare stocks. Seafood firm Sanford Ltd was down 5.7% to be the top loser on the index.

Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei was up 0.1%, while the S&P 500 E-minis futures were down 0.1%.

(1 Australian dollar = $0.7372)

(Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

ę Reuters 2021
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR / CANADIAN DOLLAR (AUD/CAD) 0.01% 0.92758 Delayed Quote.-5.55%
AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR / JAPANESE YEN (AUD/JPY) 0.38% 85.581 Delayed Quote.6.91%
AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR / NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR (AUD/NZD) 0.05% 1.04609 Delayed Quote.-2.43%
AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR / SWISS FRANC (AUD/CHF) 0.14% 0.69006 Delayed Quote.0.55%
AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR / US DOLLAR (AUD/USD) 0.19% 0.75074 Delayed Quote.-2.93%
BHP GROUP 0.74% 37.93 End-of-day quote.-10.61%
BRITISH POUND / AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR (GBP/AUD) 0.20% 1.84107 Delayed Quote.3.78%
CSL LIMITED -0.09% 295.59 End-of-day quote.4.38%
EURO / AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR (EUR/AUD) -0.09% 1.54792 Delayed Quote.-1.79%
EVOLUTION MINING LIMITED 1.33% 3.82 End-of-day quote.-23.45%
GEOPACIFIC RESOURCES LIMITED 0.00% 0.34 End-of-day quote.-20.93%
NIB HOLDINGS LIMITED -1.02% 6.82 End-of-day quote.14.24%
NIKKEI 225 1.77% 29106.01 Real-time Quote.4.96%
ORA BANDA MINING LIMITED 2.11% 0.097 End-of-day quote.-68.20%
PERPETUAL LIMITED -5.18% 38.83 End-of-day quote.11.71%
S&P GSCI GOLD INDEX 0.12% 1050.303 Delayed Quote.-5.21%
S&P/ASX 200 0.03% 7443.4 Real-time Quote.12.58%
SANFORD LIMITED 0.00% 5.05 End-of-day quote.-3.44%
WOOLWORTHS GROUP LIMITED 1.24% 40.79 End-of-day quote.3.76%
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