for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up

Australian shares inch lower ahead of U.S. election outcome

* Aussie shares set to snap 2-day winning streak

* Mining stocks biggest drag on ASX benchmark

* NZ shares boosted by utilities, healthcare stocks

Nov 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares dipped in choppy trade on Wednesday as investors awaited the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, with hopes that a clear result is likely to deliver more fiscal stimulus.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.4% to 6,044.3 by 0024 GMT, on course to snap a two-day winning streak.

U.S. stock futures rose on hopes there will be a decisive and uncontested result in the election, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s lead over President Donald Trump in national polls raising expectations for a post-election stimulus package.

Biden has held a strong lead in the final polls, but Republican Trump is close enough in swing states possibly to gain the 270 Electoral College votes needed to retain the presidency.

One could compare the market to a coiled spring that is slowly having the tension wound up waiting for a catalyst — the election result, said James McGlew, executive director of corporate stockbroking at Argonaut.

Mining stocks dropped 0.9%, with global miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto falling 0.9% and 1%, respectively.

Financials also slid as brokerages Jefferies and Morgan Stanley said the decision by Australia’s central bank to trim interest rates to near zero and ramp up bond-buying plans will further pressurize the margins of banks.

Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 0.9% after it cut fixed home loan rates.

Pendal Group Ltd was among the biggest losers on the benchmark after it posted a 10% slip in annual revenue.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index added 0.3% to 12,167.9 and notched its best session in nearly a month, propelled by utilities and healthcare stocks.

Markets shrugged off data that showed the country’s unemployment rate rose to 5.3% in the third quarter.

Reporting by A K Pranav in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up