Australian shares are likely to start the day slightly lower, despite global stocks and oil prices dropping sharply overnight over growing concerns about the spread of Omicron.
ASX futures were down 0.1 per cent to 7,188 by 07:52am AEDT.
The Australian dollar was steady at 71.12 US cents.
The modest decline in futures is despite a steep fall in US stocks on Monday night, pushed lower by surging Omicron coronavirus cases and a possible fatal blow to a $US1.75 trillion domestic spending bill.
US stock indexes retreated by well over 1 per cent on Monday as positive COVID-19 case counts rose, European nations and Britain weighed new restrictions to limit the spread and President Joe Biden’s investment bill hit a significant setback.
European and UK stocks hit two-week lows, dropping 1.3 per cent and 1 per cent respectively.
MSCI’s index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.7 per cent yesterday to its lowest in a year and the world stocks index hit its lowest in nearly two weeks.
Emerging market stocks also hit their lowest in a year.
Investors feared that new restrictions would weigh on fuel demand, sending oil prices lower.
“It was kind of a triple whammy on the economy over the weekend — Omicron, the Fed, and taking the fiscal initiative off the table,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital Management.
On oil markets, Brent crude was down 4.8 per cent to $US69.97 a barrel.