* Newcrest Mining closes at 10-month low
* Westpac Banking sees best session in 3 months
* Miners were top gainers on benchmark, up 1.8% (Updates to close)
Feb 17 (Reuters) – Australian shares fell on Wednesday, dragged lower by gold miners on the back of weak bullion prices, while BHP outshone the broader market and hit a record high as brokerages upgraded its shares after the miner’s annual results.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.5% to 6,885.2 points at the close of trade, following gains in the last two sessions, and slipped from a one-year high hit on Tuesday.
Gold miners gave up 6.2%, marking their worst day in nearly three months, as inflation bets and prospects of further economic recovery led to a jump in U.S Treasury yields and helped the dollar firm.
Higher inflation boosts gold but also lifts Treasury yields, which in turn increases the opportunity cost of holding bullion.
“There are potential signs that stronger inflation could be coming through from the United States… that certainly could be playing a part in what we are seeing as a very sharp downturn for the gold miners today,” said James Tao, market analyst at CommSec.
Newcrest Mining closed at its lowest in over 10 months, while Northern Star Resources lost 7.6%.
Tech stocks slumped as well, taking cues from U.S peers as the tech-heavy Nasdaq slipped overnight, with buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay falling 3.7% and weighing heavily on the sub-index.
Healthcare stocks gave up 1.8%, with sector heavyweight CSL Ltd down 1.6% and ASX-listed shares of medical equipment maker ResMed Inc slumping 4.2%.
Despite gold miners’ fall, mining stocks were the top gainers on the benchmark, with global miner BHP Ltd and rival Rio Tinto rising 3.4% and 3.6%, respectively.
Financial stocks were flat, even as Westpac shares jumped the most in three months after a rebound in first-quarter profit.
Three of the “Big Four” banks closed the session in positive territory.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged 0.5% higher to 12,673.97 points. Electric retailer Meridian Energy was the top gainer on the bourse. (Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)