(RTTNews) – The Australian stock market is slightly lower on Monday, extending the sharp losses in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 7,200 level, following the broadly negative cues from Wall Street on Friday, amid weak commodity prices and lingering geopolitical concerns due to the ongoing uncertainty created by fears that Russia will imminently invade Ukraine.
Traders also remain concerned over the domestic COVID-19 cases, though the daily new cases are on a steady decline. New South Wales reported 4,916 new cases and seven deaths on Sunday. Victoria also reported 5,611 new cases and three deaths, Queensland reported 4,114 new cases and six deaths, ACT reported 458 new cases and Tasmania reported 569 new cases.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 7.50 points or 0.10 percent to 7,214.20, after hitting a low of 7,156.30 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 16.40 points or 0.22 percent to 7,486.40. Australian stocks closed sharply lower on Friday.
Among the major miners, BHP Group and Rio Tinto are gaining almost 1 percent each, while Mineral Resources is slipping almost 2 percent, OZ Minerals is declining more than 1 percent and Fortescue Metals is sliding more than 2 percent.
Oil stocks are mixed, with Beach energy edging down 0.3 percent and Santos is losing almost 1 percent, while Woodside Petroleum gaining almost 3 percent and Origin Energy is advancing more than 1 percent.
Among tech stocks, Appen is losing more than 2 percent and Zip is plunging more than 5 percent, while WiseTech Global is declining 3.5 percent, Xero is down more than 3 percent and Block is sliding almost 9 percent.
Gold miners are higher. Evolution Mining is gaining almost 3 percent, Resolute Mining is advancing almost 1 percent and Northern Star Resources is adding almost 4 percent, while Gold Road Resources and Newcrest Mining are up almost 2 percent each.
Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank and ANZ Banking are losing almost 1 percent each, while National Australia Bank is edging down 0.3 percent. Westpac is flat.
In other news, shares in AGL are soaring more than 11 percent after the Australian power company rejected a takeover bid from tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes and Canadian asset giant Brookfield.
Shares in A2 Milk are surging almost 9 percent despite the milk and infant formula maker reported a profit for the first-half that halved from last year as the company undertakes its new China strategy outlined in October.
In economic news, the manufacturing sector in Australia continued to expand in February, and at a faster pace, the latest survey from Markit Economics showed on Monday with a manufacturing PMI score of 57.6. That’s up from 55.1 in January, and it moves further above the boom-or-bust line of 50 that separates expansion from contraction. The survey also showed that the services PMI jumped to 56.4 in February from 46.6 in January, while the composite PMI improved to 55.9 from 46.7.
In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.719 on Monday.
On Wall Street, stocks fluctuated in the afternoon but still ended the day firmly negative after coming under pressure in morning trading on Friday. The major averages extended the steep drop seen on Thursday, with the Dow ending the session at its lowest closing level since early December.
The Dow and the S&P 500 briefly peeked above the unchanged in late-day trading, but moved lower going into the close. The Dow slid 232.85 points or 0.7 percent to 34,079.18, the Nasdaq tumbled 168.65 points or 1.2 percent to 13,548.07 and the S&P 500 fell 31.39 points or 0.7 percent to 4,348.87.
The major European markets all also moved to the downside over the course of the session. While the German DAX Index tumbled by 1.5 percent, the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both dipped by 0.3 percent.
Crude oil prices drifted lower on Friday amid signs of negotiations to restore the Iran nuclear deal. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for March ended lower by $0.69 or 0.36 percent at $91.07 a barrel. WTI futures shed 2.2 percent in the week.
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