• SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s share market is heading for its biggest fall since February after rising COVID-19 infections in some countries rattled global markets.

    The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 102 points, or 1.45 per cent, to 6915.8 at 1200 AEST.

    The All Ordinaries on Wednesday was lower by 105.5 points, or 1.44 per cent, to 7176.6 points.

    There were losses of more than two per cent for energy and information technology shares.

    The price of Brent crude oil slipped to $US66 per barrel after virus developments that will likely stifle domestic and international travel.

    India reported 1,761 deaths from COVID-19, its highest daily toll.

    Canada and the United States extended a land-border closure for non-essential travellers.

    An epidemiologist at the World Health Organisation said there were more infections across all age groups.

    There were losses of more than one per cent for shares in materials, financials, telecommunications, property, industrials and consumer staples.

    US markets closed lower and travel stocks fell sharply.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.75 per cent to 33,821.3. The S&P 500 shed 0.68 per cent to 4,134.94 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.92 per cent to 13,786.27.

    In Australia, retail spending jumped 1.4 per cent in March, led by gains in Victoria and Western Australia after their COVID-19 lockdowns impacted sales in the previous month.

    The rise in the Australian Bureau of Statistics preliminary retail figures was stronger than the one per cent increase expected by economists

    On the ASX, BHP reported a dip in first-quarter output across its Western Australia iron ore operations but said it was still on track for a strong year.

    March quarter iron ore production totalled 59.9 million tonnes, down four per cent from the December quarter, due to bad weather and planned maintenance impacts.

    But on a year-to-date basis BHP – which ends its fiscal 2021 year on June 30 – lifted output by four per cent to a 188.3Mt.

    Shares were down 2.49 per cent to $46.26.

    Among rivals, Fortescue slipped 3.14 per cent to $20.92 and Rio Tinto fell 1.68 per cent to $118.17.

    Analytics software provider Nuix plummeted 16.37 per cent to $4.24 after revealing many customers had moved to cheaper contracts.

    Nuix revised earnings forecasts after customers changed their software licensing, partly due to remote working.

    Full-year revenue has been revised to a range of $180 million to $185 million, from $193.5 million.

    Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation were raised to between $64.6 million and $66.6 million, from $63.6 million.

    Santos has signed a gas supply deal with Rio Tinto, continuing the relationship between the two.

    The energy provider will supply 15 petajoules of natural gas to the miner’s operations in Western Australia, from late this year.

    Shares were down 3.41 per cent to $6.78.

    Fellow energy providers Oil Search and Beach also lost more than three per cent to $3.75 and $1.70 respectively.

    In banking, the ANZ fell 1.63 per cent to $28.19, the Commonwealth edged lower by 0.39 per cent to $87.39, NAB lost 1.92 per cent to $25.99 and Westpac fell 1.94 per cent to $24.75.

    The Australian dollar was buying 77.18 US cents at 1200 AEST, lower from 78.08 US cents at Tuesday’s close.