ASX drops slightly, banks and energy down

Shares were a little lower on the Australian market after investors became more concerned at rising coronavirus infections in the US and restrictions to slow the spread.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was down 25.5 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 6392.7 at 1200 AEDT on Friday.

The All Ordinaries dropped 22.1 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 6597.3.

The indices fluctuated between gains and losses early, but fell steeply around the time Asian markets opened (1130 AEDT).

Energy took the biggest hit, down 2.05 per cent.

Industrials lost 1.34 per cent, while financials slipped 0.72 per cent.

The ASX performance comes after Wall Street ended sharply lower as new infections in the US surged above 100,000 for an eighth consecutive day.

New York became the latest state to impose new virus restrictions.

In Australia, the National Retail Association is expecting a five per cent increase on Christmas sales to more than $50 billion despite the pandemic.

Chief executive Dominique Lamb said people were unable to travel overseas and keen to get out of their homes, which would bode well for spending.

Meanwhile, Western Australia will reopen its borders to all states and territories from Saturday, although some restrictions will remain for people from NSW and Victoria.

People who have recently been in those two states will be required to isolate at a suitable premises under the new “controlled border” regime.

On the ASX, fashion and jewellery chain Lovisa was the biggest mover of big stocks.

It said it had bought more than 80 European stores of German wholesaler beeline GmbH for about $16.1 million.

Shares were up 12.26 per cent to $11.26.

Ramsay Health Care chief executive Craig McNally said operating results continued to be impacted by COVID-19 during the business’ first quarter.

There were higher costs in Australia due to using protective equipment, while elective surgery restrictions in Victoria only eased in late September.

The company declined to give earnings guidance due to the pandemic.

Shares were down 2.45 per cent to $66.30.

The big four banks were all lower. NAB fared worst and dropped 1.26 per cent to $21.03.

Miners were mixed. BHP lost 1.5 per cent to $35.90, Rio Tinto shed 0.35 per cent to $96.14, while Fortescue gained 1.99 per cent to $16.87.

In the US earlier, the S&P 500 index lost 35.65 points, or 1.0 per cent, to 3,537.01. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 317.46 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 29,080.17 and the Nasdaq composite lost 76.84 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 11,709.59.

The Aussie dollar was buying 72.32 US cents at 1200 AEDT, down from 72.73 US cents at Thursday’s close.

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