SYDNEY, AAP – There were big losses for energy shares on a lower Australian market as the Omicron variant continued to pose trouble at home and abroad.
The market was down about 0.4 per cent on Monday to start the last full trading week of the year.
The spread of the latest coronavirus variant prompted the Netherlands to enter lockdown on Sunday while infections climb across Europe and the US.
The oil price was down by about two per cent amid concerns the spread of Omicron would crimp demand for fuel.
ASX energy shares were down the worst performers and dropped 3.2 per cent.
Santos shed almost five per cent to $6.10. Beach lost 4.13 per cent to $1.21.
The heavyweight financials category fared next worst and lost 1.19 per cent.
ANZ struggled most of the big four banks and shed 1.7 per cent to $27.16. NAB and Westpac each lost a little more than one per cent. The Commonwealth lost 0.7 per cent.
Healthcare shares were best, courtesy of market giant CSL improving 2.2 per cent to $278.14.
CSL completed a $6.3 billion share sale on Friday to fund its takeover of Vifor Pharma.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 26.7 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 7277.3 points at 1200 AEDT on Monday.
The All Ordinaries was lower by 35.6 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 7590.6 points.
One of the biggest losers was Magellan Financial Group. Its shares dropped 28 per cent to $21.09.
The company revealed its asset management arm lost a contract with UK wealth manager St James Place.
The loss will have a six per cent impact on group full-year revenue.
However Magellan said the impact would be immaterial to group first-half earnings.
In mining, Rio Tinto named Canada’s ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, as its next chair.
Mr Barton was also a global managing partner of McKinsey & Company.
He will take over from Simon Thompson in May.
Shares were down almost one per cent to $97.04.
Among Rio rivals, BHP dropped by about the same measure and Fortescue improved by 1.26 per cent to $19.22.
Not all the energy companies were doing poorly.
Viva Energy improved after forecasting higher full-year earnings.
Despite coronavirus lockdowns, Viva has had strong fuel sales growth across its retail and commercial divisions.
Underlying earnings are forecast to be 96 per cent higher than last year.
Shares were up about three per cent to $2.21.
Origin Energy is buying electricity network operator WINconnect.
Origin will pay $42.4 million and gain 87,000 electricity and hot water customers and a pipeline of 36,000 unit owners.
Shares were down 1.18 per cent to $5.04.
The Australian dollar was buying 71.24 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 71.64 US cents at Friday’s close.