SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s share market skidded on Wednesday as sentiment weakened amid heightened expectations of interest rate increases both globally and in the local market.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 56.9 points, or 0.79 per cent, to 7468.3 at 1200 AEST.
The All Ordinaries index was lower by 64.7 points, or 0.83 per cent, to 7768.5.
Policymakers have pointed to higher interest rates sooner than previously expected as inflation picks up due to a continued disruption in supply chains and Western sanctions on Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine.
Overnight, Wall Street ended lower after US Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard spooked investors about potentially aggressive moves by the central bank to control inflation. It sparked a selloff in technology shares.
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In Australia too, the market is narrowing the odds that the Reserve Bank will be forced to lift rates from a record low of 0.1 per cent as soon as June. The central bank on Tuesday dropped a pledge to be patient on policy amid accelerating inflation.
Technology shares were also the worst performers in the local market, with heavyweight materials, industrials and energy stocks also proving to be a drag on the index.
ASX-listed shares of US payments giant Block were the worst performers among the tech sector, dropping nearly 7 per cent, while battery materials maker Novonix also lost more than 6 per cent and accounting software firm Xero fell 3.6 per cent.
Energy stocks slid following a drop in global oil prices overnight as data showed a build up in US crude stocks. Sector heavyweights Woodside Petroleum and Santos were down 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent, respectively.
Among materials shares, battery minerals stocks such as Pilbara Minerals and AVZ Minerals lost more than 3.0 per cent each, while gold stocks including Newcrest and Regis Resources also lost ground.
Top miners BHP and Rio Tinto slid more than 1.7 per cent each, while Fortescue Metals was unchanged.
The financials sector bucked the negative trend, with each of the Big Four banks trading in the green.
Among stock specific news, shares in in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) service provider Virtus Health was up 0.7 per cent to $8.13 each after receiving a revised $8 per share buyout offer from private equity firm BGH Capital.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was buying 75.66 US cents at 1200 AEST, higher from 75.25 US cents at Tuesday’s close.