(Updates to close)
* Stimulus, vaccine hopes limit losses
* Gold stocks slip for sixth session
* NZ rises for fourth straight session
Aug 26 (Reuters) - Australian shares snapped two straight sessions of gains on Wednesday as risk sentiment was hit by the rising coronavirus death toll in the country’s second-most populous state, although additional stimulus and hopes for a local vaccine capped losses.
Victoria recorded its second-deadliest COVID-19 daily death toll on Wednesday, while the state government’s intention to extend a state of emergency by another year also weighed on the market.
The S&P/ASX 200 index settled 0.7% lower at 6,116.4 after declining 1.3% in intraday trade.
“We are sort of in the eye of the storm and there is more bad weather coming for the Australian economy,” said Brad Smoling, Managing Director at Smoling Stockbroking.
“The only saviour will be some of the commodities, the rest of the economy is really suffering.”
The benchmark stock index cut some of its losses after the government announced fresh stimulus by way of A$1 billion ($719.20 million) in defence spending to grow the military and support employment.
Hopes that local researchers could start human trials of a coronavirus antibody therapy in early 2021 and a large-scale trial of a vaccine could begin by the end of this year also supported the partial recovery late in the session.
Financials led the decline on the benchmark, with top lenders Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corp easing 1.1% and 1.3%, respectively.
Saracen Mineral Holdings lost 2.3% and Evolution Mining gave up 1.4% as the gold sub-index slipped for a sixth straight session.
BHP Group and Rio Tinto were the top losers among heavyweight miners.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.3% higher at 12,031.51, marking its fourth straight session of gains, with Meridian Energy up 1.6% while Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp added 2%.
$1 = 1.3904 Australian dollars Reporting by Arpit Nayak in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.