Dec 1 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged lower on
Wednesday, as the first confirmed community case of the Omicron
coronavirus variant stoked fears of reimposition of restrictions
and delay an economic recovery, ahead of third quarter GDP data.
The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 0.35% at 7,230.7 by 2351
GMT. The benchmark gained 0.22% on Tuesday.
Australian authorities confirmed a person with COVID-19 had
the new Omicron variant after disclosing that the person had
been active in the community on Tuesday.
Fears were also exacerbated by vaccine maker Moderna's
chief executive officer saying vaccines are likely to
be less effective against the new variant, further fuelling a
Energy stocks tumbled as much as 1.25%, tracking a
6.2% drop in U.S. crude futures overnight.
Woodside Petroleum and Santos shed as much
as 1.6% and 1.7%, respectively.
The country's fourth largest lender Australia and New
Zealand Banking Group shed as much as 0.9% after it
revealed a class action proceeding had been filed against it,
relating to some "unfair" credit card contracts.
The financial sector lost 0.5%, with other top
lenders remaining mixed.
Bucking the trend, metals and mining stocks rose as
much as 1.1% after benchmark iron ore contracts soared late on
Major miners BHP Group, Rio Tinto and
Fortescue Metals Group all advanced between 1.2% and
Australia's third quarter GDP data, which is due at 0030
GMT, is likely to contract as fresh lockdowns weighed on
consumer spending and investments, but the extent of the fall
was milder than the historic recession recorded last year, a
Reuters poll showed.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index lost 0.18%
at 12,696.06, as at 2338 GMT.
(Reporting by Harshita Swaminathan; Editing by Rashmi Aich)