July 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Wednesday as
the country's most populous city extended a lockdown to curb
rising COVID-19 cases, while electricity poles-and-wires firm
Spark Infrastructure jumped on a higher buyout offer.
The S&P/ASX 200 skidded 0.3% to 7,411.9 by 0056 GMT,
with most sectors trading in negative territory. The index had
closed at a record high on Tuesday.
Australian officials said they would extend a COVID-19
lockdown in Sydney as new cases remained high despite a month
under strict stay-home orders, while Victoria and South
Australia eased curbs from Wednesday.
Economists at Commonwealth Bank of Australia on Wednesday
pushed back expectations for the country's next policy rate hike
to May 2023 from late-2022, anticipating the need for extended
support amid virus curbs.
Spark Infrastructure stood out with a 6% jump
following a sweetened offer from a consortium including KKR
that valued the electricity infrastructure investor at
A$5.13 billion ($3.78 billion)
Among sub-indexes, tech stocks shed 0.7% as they
tracked their Wall Street peers, which fell from record highs
Miners fell more than 0.5%, with heavyweights BHP
, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group
shedding between 0.9% and 1.1%.
Bucking the trend, the industrial subindex rose
about 0.4%, helped by a 4% rise in ALS Ltd after the
lab testing service provider bought a 49% stake in European
pharmaceutical firm Nuvisan.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 0.3%
($1 = 1.3570 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Tejaswi Marthi in Bengaluru; Editing by