The Australian sharemarket opened lower this morning following a mixed market around the globe as Covid-19 jitters emerge. Major banks, energy and travel stocks are weighing on the market. At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.3 per cent or 21.20 points lower at 7375.30. The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 44 points.
Across the sectors, 9 out of 11 are in the red. Energy tumbled 1.7 per cent, followed by financials, down 1.3 per cent, then technology, down 1 per cent. Materials are edging 0.1 per cent higher, while consumer staples are up 0.4 per cent.
Energy stocks are weighing as oil prices plunged on concerns of demand in the short-term. Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) is down 2.6 per cent, while Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) is down 4 per cent.
Major banks are falling, with Westpac (ASX:WBC), Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) and ANZ (ASX:ANZ) all down around 1.9 per cent, while NAB (ASX:NAB) is down 1 per cent.
Global media giant News Corp (ASX:NWS) is down 3.6 per cent, with Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX:URW), a real estate group with large US and European operations, down 3.9 per cent.
Travel stocks fell amid rising Covid-19 cases numbers in Europe. Global operator Fight Centre (ASX:FLT) is down 5.1 per cent as the worst-performing stock, Qantas (ASX:QAN) is down 2.6 per cent and Corporate Travel Management (ASX:CTD), which holds a large US business is also down 4.4 per cent.
In headlines, financial services provider AMP (ASX:AMP) is up 1.8 per cent on news to retain management of its Wholesale Office Fund. Meridian Energy (ASX:MEZ) is down 2.7 per cent following the sale of its Australian business, Powershop.
Meridian Energy (ASX:MEZ) has agreed to sell its Australian business Powershop to a consortium comprising of Shell’s subsidiary Shell Energy and Infrastructure Capital Group (ICG) for $729 million.
AMP Capital (ASX:AMP), owned by financial services provider AMP, will remain as the manager of its Wholesale Office Fund (AWOF) following a thorough review process to oversee its portfolio.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector is Consumer Staples, up 0.4 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Energy, down 1.7 per cent.
The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC), trading 5.9 per cent higher at $1.26. It is followed by shares in Orocobre (ASX:ORE) and Lynas Rare Earths (ASX:LYC).
The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Flight Centre Travel Group (ASX:FLT), trading 4.8 per cent lower at $18.80. It is followed by shares in Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) and Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX:URW).
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1847.41 an ounce.
Iron ore is 4.7 per cent higher at US$91.30 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 4.94 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 72.37 US cents.