Australia’s share market was lower and most sectors down after the number of people infected from a coronavirus outbreak in Sydney rose to 28.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was down 44.2 points, or 0.65 per cent, to 6712.5 at 1200 AEDT on Friday, despite US markets earlier reaching record highs on economic stimulus hopes.
The All Ordinaries had lost 42.5 points, or 0.60 per cent, to 6957.6.
There were notable slumps for the financial sector, down 1.47 per cent, and industrials, lower by 1.53 per cent.
Energy dropped 0.99 per cent, property fell 0.81 per cent and information technology plunged 1.65 per cent.
ThinkMarkets analyst Carl Capolingua said the Sydney virus outbreak, revealed on Thursday, could be the only factor upsetting investors.
“Everything was set for a gain today,” he said.
“Really the only thing that’s changed is what’s happened last night.”
NSW health authorities said those infected have a US strain of the virus, which may have entered Australia in early December.
Authorities revealed the first cases on Thursday, and have today updated the number of people infected to 28. Most are on Sydney’s northern beaches.
Western Australia has resumed border restrictions on people entering from NSW, while most states and territories will require anyone who has been on the northern beaches recently to quarantine.
The virus outbreak comes after Wall Street provided a great lead. Investors remained optimistic that Washington will deliver another round of financial support for the economy and as vaccines begin slowly rolling out to the public.
On the ASX, NAB chief executive Ross McEwan expects the Australian economy will be back to pre-COVID levels by the end of next year, but acknowledges some of the bank’s customers face a long struggle.
Mr McEwan gave an upbeat outlook to 2021 and cited the September GDP gain of 3.3 per cent and bank research.
“We now think the economy will be back to 2019 growth levels by the end of 2021,” he said.
Shares were down 1.71 per cent to $23.44.
Among the other major banks, ANZ dipped 0.38 per cent to $23.49, the Commonwealth fell 1.33 per cent to $83.59 and Westpac lost 1.03 per cent to $20.00.
Insurer QBE said it’s likely to report a full-year net loss of $1.5 billion due to writedowns of goodwill in North America, as well as costs from the pandemic.
The insurer’s full-year results are due on February 19.
Shares were lower by 8.64 per cent to $9.09.
The big miners were mixed. BHP shed 0.16 per cent to $43.23, Fortescue was up 1.71 per cent to $22.79 and Rio Tinto was down 0.24 per cent to $116.16.
After trade closed on Thursday, Rio said chief financial officer Jakob Stausholm will take over as chief executive.
The decision comes after chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques and others resigned in September following the destruction of sacred Aboriginal caves in Western Australia.
Earlier in the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.49 per cent to end at 30,301.79 points, while the S&P 500 gained 0.57 per cent to 3,722.43. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.84 per cent to 12,764.
The Aussie dollar improved and was buying 76.11 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 75.94 US cents at Thursday’s close.