Australian shares fall after rising COVID cases, weak earnings
Aug 16 (Reuters) – Australian shares fell on Monday, hurt by lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 as well as downbeat earnings reports from oil and gas company Beach Energy and construction firm LendLease.
The S&P ASX 200 index fell 0.4% to 7,596.3 points by 0102 GMT, with most of the sectors trading in the red. The index closed at a record high on Friday.
Australia’s most populous state extended statewide stay-at-home orders over the weekend amid a record jump in daily new COVID-19 infections.
A near 7% drop in Beach Energy after its annual profit fell by more than a fifth further weighed on markets, dragging the energy subindex down 1%.
Beach shares hit their lowest level since March 2020.
Financials were the biggest drag on the benchmark, sliding more than 1% with the “big four” banks losing between 0.9% and 1.4%.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank shed 8.3% after it announced its annual results and said it would buy fintech firm Ferocia for up to A$116 million ($85.32 million).
Shares of Lendlease gave up 5.3% after it reported a lower full-year revenue.
Gold stocks advanced 1.4% by contrast, following a rise in bullion prices.
Heavyweight gold miners Newcrest and Northern Star Resources rose 2% and 1.4%, respectively.
A broader index of miners gained over 1% with Rio Tinto, Fortescue and BHP Group up between 0.2% and 0.6%.
BHP said it was in talks to sell its petroleum business to Australia’s top independent gas producer Woodside Petroleum in exchange for shares.
New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 rose 0.09% to 12,773.97 points.
The country’s central bank is this week expected to become the first in Asia-Pacific to raise interest rates since the pandemic began, amid concerns crisis-era stimulus is overheating the economy. ($1 = 1.3596 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Tejaswi Marthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)