The Australian share market finished session lower on Monday, 20 December 2021, following the broadly negative cues from Wall Street on Friday and drop in other Asian-pacific markets today, as the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant continues to stoke worries over an economic slowdown worldwide.

At closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 11.81 points, or 0.16%, to 7,292.16. The broader All Ordinaries index sank 24.01 points, or 0.31%, to 7,602.21.

The top performing stocks in this index were BLUESCOPE STEEL and VIVA ENERGY GROUP, up 4.1% and 3.7% respectively. The bottom performing stocks in this index were MAGELLAN FINANCIAL GROUP and CIMIC GROUP, down 32.9% and 13.4% respectively.

Market risk sentiments were largely subdued amid lingering concerns about the impact of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, with the fast spreading variant now present in 89 countries. Domestically, New South Wales reported a record 2,501 new cases on Sunday, with no deaths. Victoria also reported 1,302 new cases, but no deaths.

Shares of energy companies were major drag on the market, due to declining crude oil prices. Santos declined by 4.8%, Ampol decreased by 1.5%, and Beach Energy fell by 4.3%.

Financials were lower, with ANZ Bank and Macquarie Group both down by 1.4%.

National Australia Bank fell by 1%, but Commonwealth Bank closed 0.1% higher.

Shares of materials and resources were higher on the back of firmer iron ore prices. Fortescue rose 2.5% and BlueScope steel increased 4.1%. Rio Tinto welcomed its new chairman with a gain of 0.2%.

Shares of healthcare sector out-performed the market. thanks to a 0.6% gain in CSL and 2.9% rise in Sonic Healthcare. Ventilator maker Fisher & Paykel increased by 2.6%, and Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals gained 3.4%.

COMMODITY NEWS: Crude oil prices were lower in Asia trading hours amid concerns that continued spread of the omicron Covid variant likely to dent consumption demand, with the World Health Organization recently warning that the number of cases is doubling in 1.5 to 3 days in areas with community spread. International benchmark Brent crude futures fell by 3.3% to $71.13 per barrel. U. S. crude futures shed 3.71% to $68.23 per barrel.

CURRENCY NEWS: The Australian dollar was at $0.7091, off levels above $0.72 seen last week.

Extracted in full from: Australia Market falls on Omicron fears | Business Standard News (