The Australian share market plummeted on Friday, booking its worst session in nearly two months after detecting a new and possibly vaccine-resistant coronavirus variant in South Africa.
Energy stocks plunged -4.6%, posting their biggest loss since September 2020, as oil prices tumbled on concerns that a supply surplus could swell in the first quarter following a U.S.-led coordinated release of reserves among major consumers and as the new virus variant spooked investors.
At the closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped -128.0 points, or -1.73%, to 7,279.3, while the All Ordinaries plummeted -137.0 points, or -1.77%, to 7,599.9, while our local currency, the Australian dollar, is currently buying US$0.7136.
For the week, the index lost -1.6% and marked its third straight weekly drop.
Oil Search lost -5.5%, to $3.99, while shares in Appen tumbled -18.8% to $9.45 after Macquarie speculated the stock could potentially downgrade its outlook in the coming weeks.
Woodside Petroleum and Santos fell -5.1% and -4.8%, respectively.
All four ‘fab banks’ dipped in the red, with Westpac’s shares shedding -2.8% to $21.08.
Mining heavyweights BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group, fell between -1.5% and -3.9%, respectively.
Meanwhile, travel stocks were among the biggest losers, as Flight Centre Travel Group and Corporate Travel Management plunging -7.5% and -5.8%, respectively, while Qantas Airways dropped -5.5%.