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Australia shares flat as treasurer comments offset Omicron worries

12/05/2021 | 07:09pm EST

Dec 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares were nearly flat on Monday, as treasurer Josh Frydenberg saying that the country would raise its 2022 economic growth forecast offset worries about the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.02% by 1148 GMT. The benchmark had gained 0.2% on Friday.

Frydenberg said on Sunday that Australia would raise its 2022 economic growth forecast at the mid-year budget review, adding that it was too early to estimate the impact from Omicron.

The Omicron variant spread in Australia on Saturday, with a cluster in Sydney growing to 13 cases and a suspected infection in the state of Queensland, leading some state and territory governments to tighten their domestic border controls.

Shares of biopharma giant CSL Ltd were the top losers on the benchmark after a court ruling https://www.afr.com/companies/healthcare-and-fitness/csl-loses-challenge-to-us-plasma-supplies-20211206-p59f3p that prevents people from crossing the border from Mexico to give blood, its main business.

On the other hand, grocery firm Metcash gained over 5% after reporting a 13% jump in half-year profit.

Building materials maker Boral also gained 2.8%, after selling its North American fly ash business for $755 million.

Energy stocks rose 0.64%, led by Whitehaven Coal Ltd , up 2.66%, followed by Woodside Petroleum Ltd, gaining 0.94%.

The sub-index was tracking Friday's jump in oil prices after producer group OPEC+ said it could review its policy to hike output at short notice if a rising number of pandemic lockdowns chokes off demand.

Technology stocks fell 1.19% led by Afterpay Ltd , down 3.92%, followed by Nearmap Ltd, losing 3.52%.

Financial stocks fell 0.14%, while gold stocks rose 1.85%.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.4% to 12,625.57. The top decliners were Genesis Energy Ltd , down 2.11%, followed by Vector Ltd, losing 1.98%.

(Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; 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%
BORAL LIMITED 0.85% 5.91 Delayed Quote.-3.93%
CSL LIMITED -0.74% 262.57 Delayed Quote.-9.01%
GENESIS ENERGY LIMITED -2.60% 2.81 End-of-day quote.-1.75%
METCASH LIMITED -0.48% 4.13 Delayed Quote.-7.78%
NEARMAP LTD -1.82% 1.345 Delayed Quote.-11.33%
VECTOR LIMITED -3.00% 3.88 End-of-day quote.-3.24%
WHITEHAVEN COAL LIMITED -4.33% 2.65 Delayed Quote.6.13%
WOODSIDE PETROLEUM LTD -0.24% 25.13 Delayed Quote.14.87%
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