Australian shares have fallen moderately on Monday, snapping a two-day winning streak, as energy stocks dipped on renewed concerns about the resurgence of COVID-19 cases across Europe and the United States.

Key points:

  • ASX dips following weaker share market action in the US and Europe
  • Energy stocks hit a two-month low as oil prices extend losses
  • Resurgence of COVID in US and EU dampens risk appetite

The ASX 200 was down 0.6 per cent, to 7,353.1, by 4:30pm AEDT.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar fell to 72.2 US cents, its lowest level since October 6.

Academic and educational stocks led the declines, down 2.1 per cent, despite the government’s announcement today that fully vaccinated international students from Japan and South Korea would be welcomed back to Australia from next week.

The energy index was down 1.5 per cent, tracking a sharp fall in oil prices, as rising COVID-19 cases in Europe threatened to slow the economic recovery.

Sector heavyweights losing ground included Woodside Petroleum (-2pc), Oil Search (-1.8pc) and Santos (-2.1pc).

However, materials companies were spared, which led the gains today, up 0.7 per cent, after the price of iron ore advanced.

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Travel stocks slid on worries of more lockdowns in Europe and spiking cases in the US.

Flight Centre (-7.1pc), Corporate Travel Management (-6pc) and Qantas (-4pc) were among the worst performers.

Financial stocks followed suit, falling 1.4 per cent, with all the big four banks down between 1.2 per cent and 2.1 per cent.

However, AMP shares jumped as much as 2.6 per cent.

The company said AMP Capital would remain as the manager of its Wholesale Office Fund.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was down 0.9 per cent, at 12,631, with Meridian Energy hitting a more-than-16-month low on selling its Australian unit for $US528 million.

European, US share markets hit by new COVID-19 waves

As CBA noted, sentiment was weaker on Friday on news of rising COVID-19 cases across Europe.

Austria announced a fresh lockdown and there were concerns that other countries would do the same.

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Banks on the continent fell 2.5 per cent, in line with lower bond yields.

However, technology stocks rose 0.6 per cent and healthcare rose 1 per cent.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index fell by 0.3 per cent, the German Dax index lost 0.4 per cent and the UK FTSE index fell by 0.5 per cent.

US share markets were mixed on Friday.

Banking (-1.6pc), energy (- 3.9pc), travel and airline stocks fell, while information technology (+0.8pc) led sector gains.

At the close of trade, the Dow Jones index was down by 269 points, or 0.8 per cent.

The S&P 500 index fell 0.1 per cent from record highs. But the Nasdaq index rose by 64 points, or 0.4 per cent, to fresh record highs.

Over the week, the Dow fell 1.4 per cent, the S&P 500 rose by 0.3 per cent and the Nasdaq rose 1.2 per cent.

Global oil prices fell by around 3 per cent on Friday in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases across Europe.

Brent crude price fell $US2.35, or 2.9 per cent, to be $US78.89 a barrel.

“In Australia, the good news for consumers is that declines in crude oil prices are finally passing through to global benchmark gasoline and domestic wholesale prices,” senior economist Ryan Felsman from CommSec said in a note.

“Today, the Terminal Gate Price (TGP) sits at 150.8 cents per litre, continuing to ease from the 13-year high of 157.3 cents per litre on November 1.”

ABC/Reuters

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