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
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)