Australia shares flat as weaker miners overshadow travel cheer

10/21/2021 | 09:07pm

Oct 22 (Reuters) - Australian shares were flat on Friday, with losses in major miner on weaker commodity prices offsetting gains in travel stocks, as the country's second-largest city emerged out of the world's longest COVID-19 lockdown.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.1% to 7,407.4 by 0021 GMT. The benchmark ended 0.02% higher on Thursday.

Melbourne emerged from its latest spate of COVID-19 restrictions after enduring nearly nine months of restrictions during six separate lockdowns since March 2020, representing the longest cumulative lockdown for any city in the world.

Travel stocks surged as lockdowns lifted across the east coast of the country, with travel agents Flight Centre Travel and Webjet gaining 3.1% and 3.2%, respectively.

Flight operator Qantas rose 4.9% to a 1-1/2-year high, after it brought forward plans to reopen popular international flight routes.

Major miners fell 1.8% on the back of plunging iron ore prices overnight.

The country's big mining triumvirate - BHP Group, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals fell between 1.5% and 2.2%.

Rail operator Aurizon dropped 6.9% in its biggest intraday plunge in over a year after announcing an A$2.35 billion ($1.75 billion) deal to acquire One Rail Australia (ORA) from Macquarie's funds.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.24% to 13,157.5.

Elsewhere, Japan's Nikkei was down 0.15% and S&P 500 E-minis futures were down 0.17%.

($1 = 1.3405 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Riya Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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