SYDNEY, AAP – The Australian share market was treading water at midday as investors turned cautious amid a global selloff over rising coronavirus infections.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 9.3 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 7276.70 at 1200 AEST.
The All Ordinaries was lower by 7.1 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 7552.60.
The declines were led by mining, energy and utilities stocks due to growing uncertainty over the local and global COVID-19 outbreaks.
NSW reported another 78 cases, with infections showing no signs of falling despite three weeks of lockdown. Neighbouring Victoria announced it will be extending a lockdown for at least seven days, while South Australia will also enter a seven-day lockdown.
The decisions have sparked concerns about the hit to economic recovery.
Investor sentiment was also affected by a global sell-off extending to Asian markets for a second straight session. Overnight, all three US indices closed sharply lower.
In the local market, material shares led the slide, with BHP and Rio Tinto each trading around 2 per cent lower.
BHP shares were also affected by the global miner reporting a dip in fourth quarter iron ore production, even as annual output for many of its other divisions also declined.
Energy stocks also suffered after oil prices plunged more than 6 per cent, driven down by worries about future demand and by an OPEC+ agreement to increase supply.
Despite this, Oil Search shares jumped nearly 6 per cent to $3.89 after rival Santos confirmed it had submitted an indicative, all-scrip merger proposal to the company’s board in late June. Oil Search has rejected the proposal on valuation grounds.
Meanwhile, ANZ was the only one of the Big Four banks trading higher, up 1.3% to $27.50.
JB Hi-Fi shares were also up 2.1 per cent at $48.74 after the white goods retailer reported preliminary results showing sales for the 2021 financial year were up 12.6 per cent and net profit had jumped 67.4 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Aussie dollar was buying 73.45 US cents by 1200 AEST, slipping further from 73.81 US cents at Monday’s close.