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Australian shares hit near two-month low on Omicron variant concerns

11/28/2021 | 07:37pm EST

Nov 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares dropped more than 1% to hit a near two-month low on Monday, extending losses to a second straight day, as concerns over the cases of coronavirus' Omicron variant hitting economic recovery sparked a broad sell-off.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell as much as 1.36% to 7,180.3, its lowest level since Oct. 1, after a 1.73% drop on Friday.

Australia on Sunday confirmed two cases of the new Omicron variant, putting the country's reopening plans in jeopardy, as a growing number of countries report the highly infectious strain, and sparked concerns of threat to the economic recovery.

All three major U.S. indices posted their biggest single-day falls in months on Friday, while oil prices plunged $10 a barrel to mark their largest one-day drop since April 2020.

Australian banks declined 2% to hit their lowest since late-April, weighing the most on the benchmark.

The country's "Big Four" lenders also fell, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank losing 2.2% each.

Travel stocks tumbled to their multi-month lows, with travel management firms Flight Centre Travel Group, Webjet and Corporate Travel Management losing between 6% and 11%, while carrier Qantas Airways dropped 6%.

Energy stocks were the top losers, declining as much as 4.7% to their lowest level since Sept. 21.

Oil regained more than $3 in early Asia trade but major oil companies including Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Oil Search lost between 5% and 7%.

Bucking the subdued sentiment, lithium developer Vulcan Energy rose as much as 3.2%, after signing a five-year supply deal, with Dutch automaker Stellantis NV.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index lost 0.8% to 12,533.83 as at 2348 GMT.

Westpac and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group were the top losers in the index, while logistics firm Mainfreight Ltd declined over 2%.

(Reporting by Harshita Swaminathan; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

ę Reuters 2021
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA -1.26% 97.37 Delayed Quote.-3.59%
CORPORATE TRAVEL MANAGEMENT LIMITED -4.27% 20.17 Delayed Quote.-8.36%
FLIGHT CENTRE TRAVEL GROUP LIMITED -3.11% 16.81 Delayed Quote.-4.60%
MAINFREIGHT LIMITED -0.54% 87.13 End-of-day quote.-7.21%
NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED -1.32% 28.32 Delayed Quote.-1.80%
OIL SEARCH -2.42% 4.04 End-of-day quote.0.00%
QANTAS AIRWAYS LIMITED -2.98% 4.89 Delayed Quote.-2.40%
SANTOS LIMITED -2.62% 7.07 Delayed Quote.12.04%
STELLANTIS N.V. -3.54% 18.128 Delayed Quote.8.64%
VULCAN ENERGY RESOURCES LIMITED -5.80% 9.42 Delayed Quote.-9.42%
WEBJET LIMITED -2.30% 5.09 Delayed Quote.-1.55%
WOODSIDE PETROLEUM LTD -2.40% 25.19 Delayed Quote.14.87%
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