Australian Market Sharply Lower

The Australian stock market is sharply lower on Friday, giving up the slight gains in the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 staying above the 7,200 level, following the broadly negative cues overnight from Wall Street, with weakness across all industry sectors, particularly materials, gold miners and technology stocks.

Traders remain concerned over the domestic Covid-19 cases, though on a slight decline. New South Wales reported 25,168 new cases and 46 deaths on Thursday and Victoria also reported 18,167 new cases and 29 deaths. Queensland recorded 16,031 new cases and 13 deaths as well as Tasmania reported 866 new cases and the first death.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 120.20 points or 1.64 percent to 7,222.20, after hitting a low of 7,216.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 130.00 points or 1.70 percent to 7,538.90. Australian markets ended slightly higher on Thursday.

Among major miners, Rio Tinto is losing almost 3 percent, Mineral Resources is slipping almost 4 percent and BHP Group is down more than 3 percent, while Fortescue Metals and OZ Minerals are sliding almost 2 percent each.

Oil stocks are lower. Woodside Petroleum is losing 2.5 percent and Santos is slipping more than 2 percent, while Origin Energy and Beach energy are declining more than 3 percent each.

Among tech stocks, Appen is edging down 0.3 percent, WiseTech Global is declining almost 1 percent and Zip is slipping almost 5 percent, while Xero is flat.

Among the big four banks, Westpac is flat, while Commonwealth Bank, ANZ Banking and National Australia Bank are losing almost 1 percent each.

Gold miners are lower. Evolution Mining is losing almost 1 percent, Newcrest Mining is down 1.5 percent and Northern Star Resources is edging down 0.4 percent, while Resolute Mining and Gold Road Resources are declining more than 1 percent each.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.719 on Friday.

On Wall Street, stocks were unable to hold on to early gains on Thursday, opening solidly higher but fading as the day progressed before ending firmly in negative territory for the third straight session.

For the day, the Dow plummeted 313.26 points or 0.89 percent to finish at 34,715.39, while the NASDAQ plunged 186.23 points or 1.30 percent to close at 14,154.02 and the S&P 500 sank 50.03 points or 1.10 percent to end at 4,482.73.

Meanwhile, the major European markets ended the day mixed. While the Germany's DAX gained 0.65 percent and France's CAC 40 gained 0.3 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 edged down 0.06 percent.

Crude oil prices eased on Thursday, after having hit a seven-year high in the previous session on demand optimism and supply disruptions. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down $0.67 or 0.77 percent to $86.29 per barrel.

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