SYDNEY, AAP – Investors have slashed Woolworths shares and cut the price of Afterpay stock, leading the Australian market a little lower.
Woolworths shares dropped more than eight per cent on Tuesday after the retail giant revealed first-half earnings would be lower due to coronavirus costs.
Rival supermarket operator Coles fell 3.74 per cent to $17.20.
Afterpay fell 4.71 per cent after shareholders held a deferred meeting to vote on US payment giant Square’s proposed takeover.
The banks were little changed and ASX categories were mixed after a negative lead from Wall Street.
Travel stocks tumbled as investors worried about the Omicron variant in the lead-up to a US Federal Reserve meeting later this week.
In Australia, Omicron helped daily coronavirus infections climb to 804 in NSW. Daily infections in Victoria continued to stay higher than 1,000.
Business conditions for November and consumer confidence for the past week made only minor improvements.
On the market, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 14.8 points, or 0.20 per cent, to 7364.5 points at 1200 AEDT.
The All Ordinaries was lower by 11.2 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 7686.3 points.
Trading in CSL shares was paused before the market opened as the company finalises its purchase of Vifor Pharma of Switzerland.
CSL also plans to sell shares to help fund the deal.
The big banks were doing little before ANZ, NAB and Westpac have their annual general meetings in the next few days.
ANZ was little changed. The Commonwealth and NAB were down by less than 0.4 per cent each. Westpac gained 0.33 per cent.
The big miners were improving. Fortescue was best and rose 1.11 per cent to $18.66. BHP and Rio Tinto were up by less than 0.5 per cent each.
Maps provider Nearmap said the value of its North America business would soon surpass the value of its Australia and New Zealand business.
The North America business is worth more than $70 million. The group business is worth more than $140 million.
Shares were up 5.61 per cent to $1.55.
Medicine provider Mesoblast plunged more than 15 per cent after its partner in developing a key treatment opted out.
Novartis will no longer develop remestemcel-L, which treats respiratory distress in COVID-19 patients, after some trials did not go as well as hoped.
Mesoblast will keep working to bring the treatment to market.
The dollar was buying 71.19 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 71.71 US cents at Monday’s close.