Sept 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares dropped on Wednesday,
weighed down by banks and miners, as investors anticipated a
sharp slowdown in economic growth ahead of June-quarter gross
domestic product (GDP) data.
The economy was likely already slowing before wide-scale
COVID-19 restrictions shuttered swathes of business and jobs,
setting the stage for a vicious contraction this quarter, a
Reuters poll showed.
Data released on Tuesday showed the country's current
account surplus widened to a record high in the June quarter,
due to booming prices for some key commodity exports, notably
iron ore, and strong demand from China.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.8% to 7,474.9 by 0037
GMT, retreating from a two-week closing high marked on Tuesday.
Heavyweight financials dropped 0.6%, with all the
"Big Four" banks Commonwealth Bank of Australia,
National Australia Bank, Australia and New Zealand
Banking Group and Westpac Banking Corp
shedding between 0.1% and 1.1%.
Miners were weighed down by a drop iron ore prices,
with Rio Tinto Ltd and BHP Group Ltd declining
1.7% and 1%, respectively.
Healthcare stocks also slipped, with sector giant
CSL Ltd dropping 0.7%. Mesoblast fell for a
second straight day after the biotechnology company said its
annual attributable loss widened to $98.8 million.
Technology stocks fell, with buy now, pay later
giant Afterpay Ltd and aerial imagery firm Nearmap
shedding 1.4% and 0.9%, respectively.
Meanwhile, gold stocks nudged 0.1% higher,
benefiting from an overnight rise in bullion prices.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was down
0.2% at 13,195.36. Cancer diagnostics firm Pacific Edge Ltd
was the top loser on the index.
Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei rose 0.9%, while S&P 500
E-minis futures climbed 0.1%.
(Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by