Australian stocks fell from record highs and ended unchanged on Monday as gains in mining stocks were offset by losses in energy and gold stocks, while rising domestic coronavirus cases also added to investor worries.
The S & P / ASX 200 index closed flat at 7,394.3 points but stayed near an all-time high at the start of the session.
The most populous state, New South Wales, which is home to Sydney, reported a spike in new COVID-19 cases on Monday despite an ongoing home stay order.
Mining stocks rose as much as 1.5%, fueled by strong iron ore prices as a rebound in steel margins in China lifted sentiment.
Global miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto gained 1.3% and 2.5% respectively.
Meanwhile, energy stocks fell 1.4% as oil prices fell on fuel demand concerns due to the spread of COVID-19 variants and flooding in China.
Oil and gas explorers Woodside Petroleum and Santos lost 1.4% and 1.9%, respectively.
Gold stocks fell to their lowest level since April 7th, hurt by weak gold prices, with the largest publicly traded gold miner, Newcrest, down 1.5%.
“Investors are now looking for the news to propel the market firmly into record territory,” said James Tao, market analyst at CommSec.
“In the short term, although there is a bit of uncertainty … participants will continue to look at Sydney’s restrictions and what it could mean for the country’s economic recovery.”
Ailing casino operator Crown Resorts has settled near its half-year low when an investigation by Western Australia’s Royal Commission extended into its Perth operations until March 2022.
Lynas Rare Earths was the benchmark’s biggest winner after posting record quarterly sales.
The New Zealand S & P / NZX 50 index lost 0.5%, hurt by losses in financial and consumer stocks.