SYDNEY, AAP – Shares on the Australian market were down by more than one per cent after big losses on Wall Street following comments from US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 78.5 points, or 1.16 per cent, to 6682.2 at 1200 AEDT on Friday.
The All Ordinaries was lower by 90.2 points, or 1.28 per cent, at 6910.4.
There were losses of more than two per cent for information technology, health and materials.
There were drops of more than one per cent for consumer discretionaries, industrials and telecommunications.
Energy was the top sector, up 1.63 per cent, after oil prices rose following an OPEC decision to keep production unchanged until at least April.
However it was investors’ response to Mr Powell’s appearance for a US media outlet that shaped trading.
Mr Powell suggested inflation will pick up in the coming months but would likely prove temporary and not enough for the central bank to alter its record-low interest rate policies.
His message of wait-and-see patience caused bond yields to jump and stocks to fall further, signalling that investors foresee stronger growth and higher inflation on the horizon.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.11 per cent to end at 30,924.14 points, while the S&P 500 lost 1.34 per cent to 3,768.47. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 2.11 per cent to 12,723.47.
In Australia, government officials said Europe’s decision to block 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine from being sent to Australia will not affect the rollout.
Italy, which still has hundreds of people dying from the virus each day, used the European Union’s export control system for the first time.
Meanwhile the first AstraZeneca jabs being given in Australia on Friday. This vaccine will initially be distributed in South Australia and Western Australia.
On the ASX, Afterpay fell 4.96 per cent to $112.44 amid the selling of technology stock.
Fruit and vegetable grower Costa Group said it will buy a citrus farm and packing site which will help capitalise on overseas demand for citrus fruits.
Costa said it will buy the citrus farm of KW Orchards and a related packing operation, EJT Packers, both in south west New South Wales.
The 600ha farm includes citrus plantings of 312ha, 45ha of wine grapes and water assets, as well as a dam.
The purchase will be funded from debt facilities.
Shares were steady at $4.60.
Lithium miner Ioneer fell 14.2 per cent to 37 cents after it raised $80 million from an institutional placement.
The company, which owns a lithium mining site in the US, said new investors and existing shareholders bought stock.
Ioneer said the funds will help engineering to begin building the mine.
The boss of online marketplace Redbubble, Michael Ilczynski, who joined in January from Seek, has bought $2 million in company shares.
The company after trading closed on Thursday said Mr Ilczynski had completed the purchase, which was outlined in November.
Redbubble loaned $1.6 million for the purchase, part of Mr Ilczynski’s pay deal.
He bought 361,500 shares for an average price of $5.53 each.
Shares were down 2.87 per cent to $5.07.
The big miners were down. BHP lost 2.12 per cent to $48.25, Fortescue shed 0.8 per cent to $22.07 and Rio Tinto slipped 3.2 per cent to $117.77.
The big four banks fared better and lost less than one per cent each.
The US dollar has gained since Mr Powell’s comments.
The Australian dollar was buying 77.06 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 77.99 US cents at Thursday’s close.