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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 -0.72% 98.61 Delayed Quote.-1.65%
CORPORATE TRAVEL MANAGEMENT LIMITED -1.68% 21.07 Delayed Quote.-2.64%
FLIGHT CENTRE TRAVEL GROUP LIMITED -2.96% 17.35 Delayed Quote.1.48%
MAINFREIGHT LIMITED -1.46% 87.6 End-of-day quote.-6.71%
NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED -1.27% 28.7 Delayed Quote.0.80%
OIL SEARCH -2.42% 4.04 End-of-day quote.0.00%
QANTAS AIRWAYS LIMITED -0.98% 5.04 Delayed Quote.1.60%
SANTOS LIMITED 0.83% 7.26 Delayed Quote.14.10%
STELLANTIS N.V. -2.05% 18.6 Delayed Quote.13.81%
VULCAN ENERGY RESOURCES LIMITED 1.42% 10 Delayed Quote.-5.19%
WEBJET LIMITED -3.52% 5.21 Delayed Quote.4.45%
WOODSIDE PETROLEUM LTD 1.53% 25.81 Delayed Quote.15.91%
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