Australia shares rebound, gain 1% as investors absorb Omicron shock
Nov 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares gained 1% on Tuesday, recovering from sharp losses in the two prior sessions on concerns over the new Omicron coronavirus variant, with banks and miners boosting the benchmark index to its best day since early October.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 1% at 7,310.5 by 2355 GMT. The benchmark had lost 0.5% on Monday after a 1.7% drop on Friday.
The benchmark, however, is down 0.26% so far this month, and is set for its third consecutive monthly loss.
Heavyweight banking stocks were the top boosts to the benchmark, rising as much as 1.6% as the local currency recovered from the blows of Omicron fears. Lender Westpac Banking Corp jumped as much as 1.7%, even as the securities regulator filed six civil penalty proceedings against it for various compliance failures. The country's banking regulator after market hours on Monday published a set of rules requiring banks to hold more capital against investor and interest-only home loans but less for business loans, which is expected to affect loan pricing. Miners advanced up to 1.2% after a bounceback in iron ore prices. Major miners BHP Group , Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group climbed between 0.9% and 2.1% each. Tech stocks climbed as much as 1.5%, tracking a rebound on Wall Street, as heavyweights Afterpay and Xero rose as much as 1% and 2.6%, respectively.
Among healthcare stocks , biotech firm CSL Ltd gained 1.3% and ASX-listed shares of Resmed Inc was up 1.7%.
Australia on Monday delayed the reopening of its international borders after it reported two cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant just as it was gearing up to reopen its border to foreign visa holders on Dec. 1. Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.74% to 12,623.98 by 2342 GMT.
(Reporting by Harshita Swaminathan; Editing by Rashmi Aich)
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