* Officials expect daily virus cases to slow to below 100 per day
* Miners post third straight weekly loss
* NZ stock exchange hats trading for fourth straight day (Updates to close)
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 coming weekend.
“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 legislation.
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 plunged 10.4%.
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 trading resumed. (Reporting by Arpit Nayak in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)
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