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Australia Market falls amid virus fears
28-Jan-20   16:39 Hrs IST
The Australian share market finished session lower on Tuesday, 28 January 2020, as risk aversion selloff triggered on widespread fears of an economic slowdown stemming from the continuing spread of the new pneumonia-causing virus in China. At closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index dropped 96.09 points, or 1.36%, to 6,994.46, while the broader All Ordinaries dropped 104.82 points, or 1.46%, to 7,098.36. The market was closed on Monday for the Australia Day public holiday.

The market commenced trading on a back foot on the heels of an overnight plunge on Wall Street overnight amid growing worries about a further spread of the deadly virus leading to a global economic slowdown. Slowdown fears were exacerbated by the Chinese government's decision to extend the Lunar New Year holiday period to Sunday in an effort to contain the spread of the disease.

Chinese health authorities said Tuesday that the coronavirus outbreak has killed 106 people and infected 4,515. In the U.S., at least 110 people were identified as under investigation for the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while a handful of infections were reported in other countries, such as France and Japan.

Concerns have been growing about the potential impact of the virus on China's economy, which is set to slow to around 5.7% in 2021 from 6.1% last year, down from its near double-digit growth when the severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, hit in 2002-03, according to data from the International Monetary Fund.

Mining giants BHP Group and Rio Tinto slumped as much as 3.3% and 3.1%, respectively, as prices of commodities including iron ore and copper fell

Oil & Gas major Woodside Petroleum declined 2.4% and Santos Ltd ended down 2.3% on following a continuing drop in crude oil prices. Oil prices declined in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures slipping 0.57% to $58.98 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also shed 0.53% to $52.86 per barrel.

CURRENCY NEWS: The Australian dollar, sensitive to shifts in broader risk appetite, has eased against the greenback. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6760 after touching an earlier low of $0.6744.

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