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Australia shares extend losses as Omicron concerns mount; Afterpay tumbles

12/01/2021 | 07:43pm EST

Dec 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell at open on Thursday, as concerns over the new Omicron coronavirus variant kept investors jittery, while Afterpay fell over 5% after postponing meeting to vote on its $29 billion deal with Jack Dorsey-led Square Inc.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.54% to 7,197.1 by 2354 GMT, after ending 0.28% lower on Wednesday.

The losses come a day after the country reported that its third quarter GDP fall was not as bad as anticipated, when its major cities were under lockdown.

Miners were among the top losers on the benchmark, dropping as much as 2%.

Heavyweights BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group slumped between 0.8% and 1.3%.

Tech stocks fell as much as 3.5%, dragged lower by Afterpay dropping to its lowest since July after delaying its shareholder meeting to vote on its acquisition by Square Inc, pending regulatory approval from the Spanish central bank.

Openpay, which is not a part of the main index, however advanced as much as 8.3% after signing a partnership with American Express to let AmEx's card holders to fund purchases with its buy now, pay later (BNPL) service.

In one of the country's biggest deals this year, Australian Pharmaceutical Industries soared as much as 16.4% to a more than three-year high, after it received a buyout proposal from supermarket chain Woolworths for $613 million, outbidding competitor Wesfarmers.

Woolworths and Wesfarmers lost 0.7% and 0.3%, respectively on the news.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.48% by 2354 GMT.

(Reporting by Harshita Swaminathan; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

ę Reuters 2021
Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AFTERPAY LIMITED -2.18% 66.47 End-of-day quote.-19.93%
BHP GROUP 3.11% 48.01 Delayed Quote.12.19%
FORTESCUE METALS GROUP LIMITED 4.65% 21.39 Delayed Quote.6.40%
WESFARMERS LIMITED -0.57% 54.3 Delayed Quote.-7.91%
WOOLWORTHS GROUP LIMITED -0.90% 35.08 Delayed Quote.-6.87%
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