Travel stocks & shopping centre owners fall: ASX down 0.3% at noon

The Australian sharemarket is lower this morning, extending the heavy loss on Friday amid fears the new omicron Covid-19 variant could impact the global economic recovery. At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.3 per cent or 18.6 points lower at 7260.7. The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 28 points.

Across the sectors, 8 out of 11 are in the red. Real estate investment trusts and financials are dragging the most, both down 1.2 per cent. This is followed by energy, down 1 per cent, then industrials, down 0.9 per cent. Technology is performing the best, up 1.1 per cent, with materials and health care also lifting higher. 

Travel stocks were leading the declines, with Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) dropping 9.4 per cent at the open, before easing to 1.6 per cent lower at lunchtime. Webjet (ASX:WEB) and Qantas (ASX:QAN) also eased back losses in the late morning, trading 2.8 and 1.8 per cent lower at noon. 

Real estate stocks were among the decline, with Westfield-owner Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX:URW) down 5.8 per cent and shopping centre owner Scentre (ASX:SCG) down 3 per cent.

The major banks are weighing on the market led by ANZ (ASX:ANZ) down 1.9 per cent and NAB (ASX:NAB) down 1.7 per cent. Energy stocks are also heavy, with Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) down 1.7 per cent. 

On a brighter note, health stocks are doing well. Sonic Healthcare (ASX:SHL) is up 1.9 per cent, Healius (ASX:HLS) is up 3.4 per cent and global brand Ansell (ASX:ANN) is up 3.6 per cent. 

Company news 

Gambling giant SkyCity Entertainment (ASX:SKC) has secured a debt covenant waiver for the 31 December 2021 testing period and a variation to the debt covenants for the 30 June 2022 testing period.

Rural Funds’ (ASX:RFF) responsible entity, Rural Funds Management (RFM) has exchanged contracts for a 27,879 hectare cattle and cropping property acquisition. 

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Information Technology, up 1.1 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Real Estate Investment Trusts, down 1.2 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Domino Pizza Enterprises (ASX:DMP), trading 4.9 per cent higher at $131.20. It is followed by shares in Ansell (ASX:ANN) and Technology One (ASX:TNE).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX:URW), trading 5.2 per cent lower at $4.75. It is followed by shares in Vicinity Centres (ASX:VCX) and EML Payments (ASX:EML).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1793.41 an ounce.
Iron ore is 3.4 per cent lower at US$96.65 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 0.76 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.32 US cents.