Shares were marginally lower on the ASX and China’s decision to impose levies on Australian wine caused an Aussie wine distributor’s stocks to plunge.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 28.1 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 6573 at 1200 AEDT on Monday.
The All Ordinaries was lower by 23.3 points, or 0.34 per cent, to 6793.5.
The flat start comes after the US’ top infectious disease expert said the nation may see a “surge upon a surge” of the coronavirus in the weeks ahead.
The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped 200,000 for the first time on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
China has imposed levies of up to 212 per cent on Australian wine exports in the latest stoush with its number one trading partner.
It adds to a growing list of Australian exports that have become entangled in a diplomatic war of words between the two countries, including coal, timber, meat, lobsters and barley.
Treasury Wine Estates’ shares were down 7.25 per cent to $8.56.
The company earlier said a deposit of 169.3 per cent will be applied to the imported value of its wine in containers of two litres or less.
Meanwhile the Reserve Bank’s monthly figures showed total credit was flat for a third straight month in October, to be just 1.8 per cent higher on the year.
That is the lowest annual rate since February 2010 and the aftermath of the global financial crisis.
Mortgages for owner-occupiers and investors rose by just 0.3 per cent in October, to leave the annual rate at 3.3 per cent.
Elsewhere on the ASX, the big miners were mixed. BHP lost 0.63 per cent to $38.47, Rio Tinto shed 0.22 per cent to $101.77 and Fortescue was up 1.02 per cent to $18.76.
Gold miner Newcrest has formed a joint venture with Greatland Gold for the Havieron gold and copper project in Western Australia.
Shares in Newcrest lost 0.55 per cent to $26.94.
Clothing retailer Kathmandu said its chief executive Xavier Simonet has resigned to lead the Australian government’s trade arm, Austrade.
Shares were down 4.08 per cent to $1.17.
In banking, ANZ lost 1.34 per cent to $22.78, the Commonwealth shed 1.10 per cent to $79.82, NAB eased by 0.81 per cent to $23.13 and Westpac declined by 0.85 per cent to $20.25.
The Aussie dollar was buying 74.02 US cents at 1200 AEDT, up from 73.75 US cents at Friday’s close.