SYDNEY, AAP – Energy and materials shares were down by more than two per cent as they bore the brunt of wide-ranging selling on the ASX.
Energy shares fell 2.65 per cent and materials dropped 2.42 per cent after broad-based losses on US markets.
Whitehaven Coal fell 4.49 per cent to $1.38.
The big miners were caught up in the selling. Rio Tinto dropped 3.38 per cent to $124.35. BHP lost 2.71 per cent to $49.15 and Fortescue shed 2.41 per cent to $23.00.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was lower by 120.3 points, or 1.7 per cent, to 6945.7 at 1200 AEST on Wednesday.
The All Ordinaries was down 114.3 points, or 1.56 per cent, to 7184.8 points.
All categories of shares except for property were down by at least one per cent.
The decline follows late technology selling on Wall Street.
Weak housing starts data overshadowed better-than-expected earnings from Walmart and Home Depot.
US home-building fell more than expected in April, likely pulled down by soaring prices for lumber and other materials.
This possible cause may add to concerns about inflation from economies rapidly recovering from the pandemic.
In Australia, wages had only a modest pick-up of 0.6 per cent in the first three months of 2021.
This was slightly higher than the 0.5 per cent rise expected by economists.
However, the annual rate remains 1.5 per cent – at least half the rate the Reserve Bank wants to see to return inflation to some normality.
On the ASX, payments provider EML plummeted 36.5 per cent to $3.24 after concerns about its Irish subsidiary’s anti-money laundering controls.
Ireland’s central bank has written to the company raising significant regulatory concerns.
The central bank has flagged orders may follow.
Artificial intelligence provider Appen climbed by 12.09 per cent to $12.60 after outlining changes to organisational structure and financial reporting.
The company has created the divisions of global, enterprise, China and government.
Appen will begin reporting in US dollars. The company said this would remove volatility when US earnings were converted to Australian dollars.
Outdoor clothing retailer Kathmandu named Rip Curl boss Michael Daly as group chief executive.
Kathmandu bought the surfwear provider in 2019.
Mr Daly has led Rip Curl for eight years.
Shares were down 0.33 per cent to $1.48.
In banking, the Commonwealth fared worst of the big four. Shares dropped two per cent to $95.80 after a record price on Tuesday.
Macquarie Group lost 2.43 per cent to $150.37.
The Australian dollar was buying 77.82 US cents at 1200 AEST, lower from 78.02 US cents at Tuesday’s close.