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Australia shares drop on virus worries; miners drag

May 26 (Reuters) - Australian shares looked set to snap a four-day winning rally on Wednesday as blue-chip miners dragged and a rise in domestic coronavirus cases sparked fears of a snap lockdown in the state of Victoria.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.23% to 7,098.6 points by 0024 GMT, a retreat from Tuesday’s two-week closing peak. The benchmark closed 0.98% higher in the previous session.

Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria recorded six new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, after an infected person was among about 23,400 people who attended a football match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground during the weekend.

Heavyweight Aussie miners tumbled 0.9% as China’s warning against hoarding and speculation kept market participants on the edge and pressured iron ore prices.

The country’s mining triumvirate, BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals, all tumbled over 2% each.

Local energy stocks dived 1%, even as oil prices moved a shade higher overnight.

Sector heavyweights, Worley Ltd fell 1.8%, followed by Beach Energy Ltd, losing 1.4%.

In contrast, gold stocks vaulted 2.2% as the dollar and U.S. Treasury yields slipped amid expectations that the Federal Reserve would keep its monetary policy accommodative.

Gold miner Chalice Mining Ltd led gains, advancing 8.5%, followed by Tietto Minerals Ltd.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.1% to 12,358.9, ahead of the central bank’s quarterly monetary policy announcement later in the day. In other markets, Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.17% at 28601.36, and the S&P 500 E-minis futures were up 12.5 points, or 0.3%. (Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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