Australia: Shares weighed by banks amid coronavirus lockdowns

[BENGALURU] Banks pressured Australian shares on Thursday as lockdowns to curb the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant of coronavirus remained in place.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.4 per cent to 7,285.1 points on the first day of the new financial year. The benchmark rose 0.2 per cent on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei was down 0.1 per cent, while S&P 500 E-minis futures gained 0.2 per cent.

In the past few days, major cities, including Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, have gone into a lockdown. Around one-in-two Australians are now under stay-at-home orders and millions of others subjected to movement curbs and mandatory mask-wearing.

The financial index was the top percentage loser on the bourse, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia shedding 0.7 per cent, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Corp dropping 0.6 per cent.

Gold stocks gained the most among sectors, up 1 per cent, benefiting from firmer bullion prices.

Geopacific Resources added as much as 12.2 per cent and was the top percentage gainer on the sub-index, while Newcrest Mining gained 0.8 per cent.

Australia's top power producer rose 1.6 per cent. Its shares fell 10 per cent in the previous session as the company outlined plans to split into a bulk power generator and a carbon-neutral energy retailer by June 2022 as well as stop paying special dividends.

Technology stocks took their cue from a weak overnight session on the tech-heavy Nasdaq and fell 0.1 per cent. Software maker Altium lost 0.5 per cent and software solutions provider WiseTech Global fell 0.8 per cent.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was flat at 12,651.1.

Pushpay Holdings and Z Energy were the top percentage losers on the index.


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