Jan 21 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Friday amid a
sell-off across sectors, as stocks of mining giant Rio Tinto
dropped, gold and mining companies dipped, and cases of the
Omicron coronavirus variant in the country continued to surge.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was down 1% at
7,342.4 points by 2337 GMT, losing 1.6% for the week so far
its worst weekly performance since Oct. 1.
Investors' concerns grew after Western Australia cancelled
plans to reopen its borders on Feb. 5, citing health risks from
spiking Omicron cases elsewhere in the country.
Miners led the declines on the ASX 200, shedding
2.5% to eye their first weekly loss after eight straight weeks
Global iron ore giant BHP Group lost 2.6% after its
investors in London and Sydney approved plans to scrap its dual
listing in favour of a main listing in Sydney.
Meanwhile, rival Rio Tinto's shares dropped more
than 2.4% after Serbia revoked its lithium exploration licences
on environmental grounds. Rio was, however, set to gain for the
ninth straight week.
Gold stocks fell 1.7%, dragged by Evolution Mining
Ltd's over 1.9% slide.
Tech stocks were down 1.5%, hitting their lowest
since May 20, while the energy index slid 1.4% amid
weaker oil prices.
Coal miner Whitehaven Coal dropped 10.2% in its
worst session since Nov. 2. It was also one of the biggest
losers on the benchmark after posting a weak quarterly
production and subdued outlook for 2022.
Banking stocks followed suit, declining 0.7%. Major
lender Australia and New Zealand Banking Group also
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slid
0.9% to 12,497.1. Motorhomes seller Tourism Holdings Ltd
led losses, falling 2.8%.
Elsewhere, the S&P 500 E-minis futures were down
(Reporting by Yamini C S; editing by Uttaresh.V)