SYDNEY, AAP – The Australian share market is trading lower at midday amid continuing concerns of aggressive tightening by the US Federal Reserve and weaker sentiment in local banking stocks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 30.3 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 7089.9 points at 1200 AEDT on Monday.
The All Ordinaries index fell 27.4 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 7391.5 points.
The cautious mood extended across markets in the Asia Pacific region after stronger than expected US jobs data on Friday added to the likelihood of an interest rate increase by the US central bank in March.
Sentiment was worsened in the local market after ANZ’s quarterly trading update weighed on the banking sector.
ANZ shares slumped more than 3.0 per cent to $26.02 after the lender flagged softer revenue and lower margins in the December quarter amid tough competition in the home loans market.
Shares in the other Big Four banks were also depressed, with CBA, NAB and Westpac all down between 1.0 and 2.0 per cent.
Heavyweight mining shares were mixed, with BHP and Fortescue Metals trading around 0.5 per cent higher, but Rio Tinto slipping into negative territory.
However, energy stocks bucked the trend after crude oil prices hit a seven-year high on Friday. Both Woodside and Santos were trading more than 1.5 per cent higher.
Healthcare stocks also retreated, led by a 1.1 per cent drop in biotech giant CSL, while Sonic Healthcare and Cochlear were down around 0.5 per cent each.
Casino operator Star Entertainment slipped 0.2 per cent to $3.55 after flagging a first-half loss and outlining remediation for employees it had underpaid over six years.
Shares in construction materials maker James Hardie jumped 5 per cent after it again lifted its annual profit guidance.
Graincorp shares soared 13 per cent to $8.15 after the agribusiness firm forecast at least 70 per cent growth in full-year profit.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was buying 70.76 US cents at 1200 AEDT, compared to 71.39 US cents at Friday’s close.