Opening Call: The Australian share market is to open lower.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.8% lower in its first session since Sydney tightened Covid-lockdown restrictions over the weekend. Mining, energy and financial stocks weighed on the benchmark, which gave back most of the previous week’s 1.0% gain. The materials sector slipped 2.4% amid heavy losses by gold miners, while iron-ore giants Fortescue, Rio Tinto and BHP gave up between 1.4% and 2.6%. Wealth managers and banks lost ground.
Stocks slid as anxiety mounted over the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant and its potential impact on the global economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped about 2.1%. The S&P 500 fell 1.6%, while the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite declined 1.1%. The losses marked an acceleration after U.S. stock indexes retreated last week, snapping a three-week winning streak.
Surging cases of the coronavirus in many parts of the world, including highly vaccinated countries such as the U.K., have prompted investors to dial down their expectations of economic growth in the coming months.
Gold futures posted a second-straight decline and a sharp, global selloff in equities, partly prompted by renewed concerns about the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant. August gold edged down by 0.3% to settle at $1,812.30 an ounce, following a loss of 0.8% on Friday. Last week, bullion put in a gain of about 0.2% to mark its fourth straight such rise and matching its longest streak since the period ended May 28, FactSet data show.
Crude-oil futures fell sharply to end below $70 a barrel, with U.S. prices posting their biggest daily percentage loss since September. West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery dropped 7.5% to settle at $66.42 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The August contract expires at Tuesday’s settlement.
September Brent crude, the global benchmark, tumbled nearly 6.8% to $68.62 a barrel. Concerns over the spread of the Covid Delta variant continued to cloud the demand outlook after OPEC+ reached a deal to boost oil production.
Major currencies were mixed against the US dollar in European and US trade. The Euro rose from lows near US$1.1765 to US$1.1820 and was near US$1.1800 at the US close. The Aussie dollar fell from US73.85 cents to near US73.22 cents and was near US73.35 cents at the US close. And the Japanese yen rose from near 110 yen per US dollar to JPY109.06 and was near JPY109.49 at the US close.
European share markets slumped on Monday on concerns that the Covid-19 Delta variant could derail the economic recovery. An expected lift in OPEC+ oil supply following a new production agreement drove the oil price lower. Oil stocks fell by 3.7% and the travel & leisure sector fell by 3.6%. Airlines and cruise operators fell 5.2-8.3% with Carnival down the most. The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell by 2.3%. The German Dax index lost 2.6% while the UK FTSE fell by 2.3%. In London trade, shares in Rio Tinto fell by 3% and BHP fell by 3.2%
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average closed 1.3% lower, dragged by falls in electronics stocks amid continuing concerns about the pace of an economic recovery. Investors are paying attention to rising Covid-19 daily infections in Japan ahead of the Tokyo Olympics set to open later this week.
Chinese stocks ended the session mixed amid concerns over rising cases of Delta-variant coronavirus infections across the region. Auto stocks were broadly higher. Markets will likely focus on China’s upcoming one- and three-year loan prime rate decisions on Tuesday, Oanda said. The Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.5%, the Shenzhen Composite Index was down 0.1%, and the ChiNext Price Index — a measure for emerging industries and startups — was 0.5% higher.