* Westpac slips as much as 2.4%
* Afterpay sheds over 6%; CFO exits
* Energy stocks drop most in over 2 weeks
Sept 24 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed nearly 1% lower
on Thursday, tracking declines on Wall Street, as fresh economic
data from the United States cast doubts about a global recovery
and hurt local stocks of energy and tech companies.
The benchmark ASX 200 index closed 0.8% lower at
5,875.9. The index had risen the most in more than two months in
the previous session.
Data showed U.S. business activity fell in September, while
a separate survey revealed business growth in the Eurozone
grounded to a halt. Both the sets of data raised worries about
The fears dragged global oil prices, with Beach Energy
and Oil Search leading the declines among
Australia's energy stocks. Top gas producer Woodside
Petroleum fell 2%.
James Tao, a market analyst at CommSec, said any worries
over the U.S. recovery "is not a good sign," adding that growth
worries in Europe on top of COVID-19 spell trouble for a market
that has rallied on hopes of an economic improvement.
Tech stocks were the among the top losers, with Afterpay
shedding more than 6% after it announced the departure
of its chief financial officer.
A fall in Westpac Banking Corp also weighed after
it agreed to pay a A$1.3-billion ($915.07 million) fine. But the
stock trimmed losses later as some investors saw the fine
marking an end to 10 long months of uncertainty.
Among its "Big Four" peers, Australia and New Zealand
Banking Group and National Australia Bank
gained 0.1%-0.4% , while the Commonwealth Bank of Australia
In New Zealand, the benchmark NZX 50 index edged
Telecom services provider Chorus was the biggest
percentage laggard on the benchmark, ending lower for a fourth
($1 = 1.4207 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Deepali Saxena; editing by Uttaresh.V)