Oil and Gas

Commodity stocks drag Australian shares as China COVID fears persist

Nov 29 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Tuesday, dragged by energy and gold stocks, as China’s COVID-19 situation and hawkish comments by a U.S. Federal Reserve official dented sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.2% to 7,214.60 by 2354 GMT, with weak moves across most of the sub-indexes.

China has been reporting a record spike in COVID-19 cases, and aggressive restrictions to rein in the surge have caused a civil unrest over the past few days, although investors are hoping that Beijing could lift the curbs faster.

Weighing on investors’ mood further, New York Federal Reserve president said on Monday the U.S. central bank needs to press forward with interest rate hikes.

Looking ahead, all eyes would be on U.S. November consumer confidence data due later in the day.

Domestic energy stocks fell 1.9% as Brent crude oil prices settled down.

Index heavyweight Woodside Energy dropped as much as 5% as its production forecast for 2023 fell short of investors’ expectations.

Santos declined 1% after announcing a temporary shutdown of its John Brookes Platform due to a small gas leak.

Local gold stocks slid 2.3%, making them the top percentage losers on the benchmark, as gold prices slipped.

Top gold miners Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources fell 2.2% and 2.6% respectively.

Miners slipped about 0.1% as Singapore iron ore futures slumped on caution prompted by China’s COVID-19 protests.

Financials dipped 0.3% with the “Big Four” banks losing between 0.1% and 0.7%.

Only local health stocks rose 0.7%.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index jumped 1% to 11,423.040. (Reporting by Echha Jain in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)