SYDNEY, AAP – Rate hike fears appear to be weighing on the Australian share market, leaving it down about half a per cent in early trading.
Most share categories were lower on Tuesday as markets struggle following last week’s rate-hike warnings from the US Federal Reserve.
Financials and consumer staples were the most affected ASX categories and dropped more than one per cent each.
The Commonwealth Bank and Macquarie Group each shed about two per cent.
Share categories doing better than the market were materials, healthcare and technology.
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The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 33.6 points, or 0.45 per cent, to 7413.5 points at 1200 AEDT.
The All Ordinaries index was lower by 30.3 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 7735.8 points.
Most US markets closed a little lower as investors wait for this week’s inflation data and what it will mean for US Federal Reserve monetary policy tightening.
The central bank’s minutes of its December meeting revealed rate hikes may be needed earlier to slow inflation and help the economy.
Chair Jerome Powell will also discuss the economy this week as part of a US senate hearing.
In Australia, consumer confidence has fallen due to the rapid spread of the Omicron strain of COVID-19.
In the first release for 2022, the weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index dropped 2.2 per cent compared to its pre-Christmas level.
On the ASX, poultry producer Inghams is losing sales and staff to the effects of the virus.
Many staff have been unable to work, causing production and distribution challenges.
Company leaders said it was too early to gauge the impact on trading results.
Shares were down 7.36 per cent to $3.28.
Surgical skin products maker PolyNovo attracted plenty of interest from investors after revealing first-half sales were up 45 per cent.
Better sales in the US have been the driver. Year-to-date sales in the US were up 58 per cent to $14.2 million.
Shares rose 19.58 per cent to $1.71.
In materials, the big miners were mixed after decent gains on Monday.
BHP dropped 0.15 per cent to $44.71. Fortescue improved by 1.69 per cent to $20.99. Rio Tinto and South32 were little changed.
Wireless internet provider Swoop is buying Adelaide fibre network operator iFibre.
Swoop will gain a 34km fibre network and customers for $1.5 million.
Shares were up 1.86 per cent to $1.64.
The biggest technology company on the market, Afterpay, rose 2.36 per cent to $74.00.
The Australian dollar was buying 73.20 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 71.93 US cents at Monday’s close.