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Shares on the Australian market had a third consecutive loss after investors were troubled by a coronavirus variant and underwhelmed by a US economic stimulus deal.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 70.3 points, or 1.05 per cent, to 6599.6 on Tuesday, after Wall Street closed lower.

The decline sets the index back to levels recorded at the start of the month.

The All Ordinaries lost 74.5 points, or 1.08 per cent, to 6845.5.

The energy sector was hardest hit, down 2.75 per cent, as oil prices tumbled almost three per cent.

Materials dropped 2.07 per cent after metals prices sagged.

Metals prices fell after the UK detected a variant of the coronavirus that is up to 70 per cent more infectious.

A $US900 billion ($1.2 trillion) pandemic relief package passed US Congress, but there was little response from investors.

The Aussie dollar was buying 75.59 US cents at 1625 AEDT, lower from 75.62 US cents at Monday’s close.