* Officials expect daily virus cases to slow to below 100
* Miners post third straight weekly loss
* NZ stock exchange hats trading for fourth straight day
Aug 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed lower on Friday,
dropping the most in nearly a month, as a consistent rise in
daily COVID-19 cases in Victoria dented risk appetite.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.9% lower at 6,073.80,
its biggest one-day loss since July 31. The benchmark index
posted a second straight weekly loss.
Victoria, the epicentre of a fresh COVID-19 outbreak in
Australia, reported a steady uptick in cases, although
authorities expect the daily numbers to fall below 100 by the
"At this stage, unless there is a vaccine or something sound
to control the pandemic, a lot of people are wondering what will
happen to businesses in that period," Said Doug Symes, analyst
at Novus Capital.
"Markets tend to think ahead - it's not what happened
yesterday or today, it's what the expectation is in six to
twelve months time."
Broader sentiment was also hit after U.S. House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi said U.S. Democrats and Republicans still do not
see eye to eye on the quantum of fresh coronavirus relief
Among individual shares and sectors, heavyweight miners
led losses on the benchmark and posted a third straight
weekly loss. Gold stocks, which declined after bullion
prices fell, weighed on the mining index.
BHP Group finished 1.9% lower and gold miner
Newcrest Mining shed 2.5%.
Lower oil prices overnight pulled energy firms Santos
and Ampol down by 2.7% and 4%, respectively.
The energy sub-index also dropped.
Tech stocks declined 2%, but still clocked a fourth
weekly gain. Afterpay slid 2.8%, while Appen
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended
0.3% higher at 12,093.52.
Trading on the stock exchange was halted temporarily for a
fourth consecutive day in the wake of cyber attacks this week,
with stock exchange operator NZX Ltd dropping 3% after
(Reporting by Arpit Nayak in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)