SYDNEY, AAP – A poor week for the ASX has continued as the latest coronavirus variant and inflation concerns weigh on trade.

The market was down 0.64 per cent on Thursday and there were big falls across some share categories.

Information technology shares plunged by more than three per cent. Afterpay lost almost five per cent.

There were losses of a little more than one per cent for shares in energy, materials and healthcare. Market giant CSL dropped 1.27 per cent.

The three main US indices each dropped more than one per cent overnight after news of the first person in the US infected with the Omicron variant.

Meanwhile Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said policymakers needed to be ready to respond to the possibility inflation may not recede in the second half of next year.

Demand for oil has not been helped by the spread of Omicron. The price of Brent crude was little changed at $US68.87 per barrel at 1200 AEDT.

OPEC and its allies will decide this week whether to release more oil.

Domestically, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 46.5 points, or 0.64 per cent to 7189.4 points.

The All Ordinaries was lower by 55.7 points, or 0.73 per cent, to 7502.1 points.

Woolworths has pitched an $872 million takeover offer for Australian Pharmaceutical Industries, pitting the retail giant against Wesfarmers.

API said Woolworths’ offer of $1.75 per share was superior to Wesfarmers’ bid of $1.55 per share.

API shares surged by 16 per cent to $1.73.

Woolworths was down almost half a per cent to $39.65.

Wesfarmers improved by 0.36 per cent to $57.25.

Crown Resorts has declined private equity group Blackstone’s takeover offer of $8.46 billion.

Blackstone offered $12.50 per share but has been invited to improve its bid.

Crown shares were little changed at $10.94.

Macquarie Group has named former Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens as its next chair.

Mr Stevens will takeover from the retiring Peter Warne in May.

Shares were up 0.19 per cent to $196.08.

The big banks were mixed. The Commonwealth was best and rose by one per cent to $94.82. Westpac fared worst and lost almost one per cent to $20.43.

The big three miners were all lower. BHP and Rio Tinto each lost a little more than one per cent. Fortescue slipped 0.28 per cent to $17.22.

The Australian dollar was buying 71.00 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 71.66 US cents at Wednesday’s close.