* Mining, travel stocks weigh on ASX200
* Healthcare stocks outperform benchmark
* NZX 50 index falls for 2nd day, down 0.4%
April 12 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed lower on
Monday, weighed down by travel and mining stocks, after the
federal government abandoned its COVID-19 vaccination targets
following a shift in stance over AstraZeneca's shot last
The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 0.3% to 6,974, closing
lower for the second straight session. Last week, it had posted
its best weekly performance in nine.
Over the weekend, Australia dropped its goal to inoculate
nearly all of its population by the end of 2021 following advice
that people under the age of 50 take Pfizer's COVID-19
vaccine over AstraZeneca's shot.
"The market is mainly down on (the) vaccination target
cancellation debacle and the pop in bond yields," said Mathan
Somasundaram, Chief Executive Officer at Deep Data Analytics.
Trading turnover has been relatively low for last three
weeks and this week also started with low turnover, Somasundaram
said, adding that: "Any market volatility will be exaggerated in
Travel-related stocks were hit by setbacks in vaccination
efforts. Ticket booking and tour operating firm Webjet
and carrier Qantas Airways slipped more than 2% each.
Miners tumbled 1.3% to mark their second straight
session of falls on subdued iron ore prices.
The country's mining triumvirate - BHP Group, Rio
Tinto and Fortescue - fell between 0.9% and
Gold stocks dropped 2.6%, snapping a five-session
winning run, as bullion prices sagged after data showing robust
readings for U.S. inflation and a faster economic rebound
bolstered Treasury yields.
Newcrest, the country's biggest gold miner, skidded
2.6% and Northern Star Resources fell 2.8%.
Healthcare stocks outperformed the benchmark to
close 0.7% higher. CSL rose 0.9%, while ResMed
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.4%
to close at 12,518.7, marking its second straight session of
(Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu