The Australian share market has ended the session in the red, but off its lows, amid concerns about rising coronavirus cases globally and in Victoria.
The benchmark ASX 200 index closed 1.5 per cent lower, at 5,915 points, after dropping more than 2 per cent during the session.
By 4:30pm AEST, the Australian dollar was 0.4 per cent higher against the greenback, around 68.9 US cents.
The major bank stocks finished lower, with NAB shares losing 1.6 per cent, while shares in Bank of Queensland fell 3.4 per cent.
Energy was one of the worst-performing sectors, as oil prices declined — Brent crude had fallen 2 per cent to $US40.19 a barrel.
Shares in Santos (-3.1pc), Beach Energy (-5.6pc), Origin Energy (-4.4pc) and Worley (-4.8pc) closed lower.
Travel stocks fall but Rex is king of the gains
Travel stocks continued to decline sharply, including Flight Centre (-5pc), Helloworld (-7.2pc) and Webjet (-5.3pc), as well as Qantas (-5pc).
Airlines have been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus recession, but the swingeing cuts at Qantas carry a warning for the whole economy.
However, shares in airline Regional Express (Rex) surged by 17 per cent, after it confirmed plans to launch flights between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane next year, which would see it compete with Qantas and a likely scaled-down Virgin Australia.
Rex’s board has approved plans to raise $30 million to fund the expansion, which will include an initial fleet of five to 10 narrow-body jet aircraft based out of Sydney or Melbourne.
Rex, which normally services