Nov 22 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Monday as a
resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Europe prompted fresh lockdowns
and painted a bleak picture of post-coronavirus recovery for the
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.59% lower at 7,353.1
after two straight sessions of gains.
Argonaut's director of equity sales, Damian Rooney, said the
market was down because of "a poor lead out of the U.S. on
Friday night and the weekend news, particularly on the situation
Travel stocks were among the top losers, with three of the
top 10 decliners on the benchmark index belonging to the sector.
Travel management firms Flight Centre Travel Group and
Corporate Travel Management, and carrier Qantas
fell between 4% and 7.1%.
Banking stocks closed 1.4% lower after hitting their
weakest level since Aug. 2. The so-called "Big Four" banks lost
between 1.2% and 2.1%.
Rooney attributed the sell-off to last week's brokerage
downgrades in the sector after Commonwealth Bank of Australia
became the third lender among the top four to flag
margin pressures, and the weaker Australian dollar.
Energy stocks dropped 1.6%, hitting their lowest in
nearly a month as oil prices slid to a seven-week low.
Miners rose 0.5%, offering some support to the
benchmark index. Iron ore prices jumped 4%, sending sector
heavyweights BHP Group, Rio Tinto and
Fortescue up between 0.4% and 2.1%.
Vulcan Energy climbed 7.1% to become the
second-highest gainer on the index after it signed its second
supply agreement with Renault SA for battery-grade
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 ended 1.04% lower
at 12,607.64, with Meridian Energy hitting a more than
16-month low on selling its Australian unit.
(Reporting by Harshita Swaminathan; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)