Oil and Gas

Australian shares drop 1% as travel stocks weigh

April 21 (Reuters) - Australian stocks fell a percent on Wednesday, extending losses into a second straight session, as travel stocks dropped after a new COVID-19 case in New Zealand sparked worries of a pause in the trans-Tasman quarantine-free travel.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.7% to 6,968.1 by 0030 GMT. It fell as much as 1% to mark its worst intraday drop in about five weeks.

A new case of the novel coronavirus detected at Auckland airport comes just a day after the country opened a travel bubble with Australia.

That pulled down ASX-listed travel stocks, with Qantas Airways falling 2.8% and Sydney Airport Holdings slipping 1.3%. Flight Centre Travel and Helloworld Travel shed about 2% and 1.5%, respectively.

In other markets, Japan’s Nikkei dropped 1.56% to 28,631.87. The S&P 500 E-minis futures were down 0.13%, while all three major U.S. indexes closed lower overnight.

In Australia, the top percentage gainers on the benchmark were Corporate Travel Management, up 4.52%, followed by IDP Education, gaining 2.92%, and Hub24, up 2.58%.

Heavyweight miners fell 1.5%. Lithium miners Galaxy Resources and Orocobre were the biggest losers on the index, falling nearly 6% each.

Iron ore giant BHP Group fell more than 2% after it reported a slight drop in its third-quarter output. However, it expects iron ore production at the upper end of its forecast range for full-year.

Energy index fell 2.1%, led by Beach Energy , down 2.8% and Ampol, losing 1.3%. Oil prices dropped from their one-month highs on fears that world’s third-biggest oil importer India may impose new restrictions.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.4% to 12,628.8.

The top percentage losers on the benchmark are Auckland International Airport, down 2%, followed by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, losing 1.7%, and Meridian Energy, down 1.6%. (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)