The Australian market snapped two-straight days of gains and was weighed by a sell-off seen on Wall Street overnight, after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates and flagged the possibility of more rate hikes to come. The ASX 200 fell 0.6 per cent or 46.5 points lower to 7204.8, with nine (of 11) sectors losing ground. Materials was the worst performing sector, weighed heavily by losses in lithium stocks. Coal miners on the other hand were amongst some of today’s best performers.

In company news, lithium miner Pilbara Minerals (PLS) says that it sold ‘two cargoes for a combined total of 10,000dmt at an average price of US$7,552/dmt’. The average sale price was approximately a 3 per cent decline from its mid-November price of US$7,805/dmt. PLS closed 11.4 per cent lower and was the worst performer today.

Australia’s largest almond grower, Select Harvest (SHV), fell 2.9 per cent after providing a crop and market update. SHV expects its FY23 crop forecast to be 30,000 MT (FY22: 29,250 MT). The company also noted that ‘weather conditions have been cooler and wetter than normal’, and forecasts ‘increased growing costs’ due to ‘material increases in fertiliser and ag-chem prices’ in FY23.

Woolworths Group (WOW) has agreed to ‘acquire a 55 per cent equity interest in Petspiration Group’. The speciality pet food, accessories and services retailer will be acquired, ‘for a cash consideration of $586 million’. WOW says that the acquisition was mostly funded from its 5.5 per cent equity interest sale in Endeavour Group yesterday. WOW rose 0.1 per cent.

AI lifecycle company, Appen Limited (APX) announced the appointment of Armughan Ahmad as CEO and President. The appointment will commence ‘no later than 30 January 2023’ and APX’s current CEO Mark Brayan will remain in the business until 28 February 2023 to ensure ‘a smooth transition’. APX rose 1.5 per cent.


Top Australian Brokers


In economic news, the ABS released labour force figures for November 2022. Employment rose by 64,000 people (consensus: 19,000), with full time jobs up by 34,200 and part-time jobs up by 29,800. The unemployment rate edged higher from a 48-year low of 3.41 per cent in October to 3.45 per cent. The workforce participation rate rose from 66.6 per cent to an equal record high 66.8 per cent.

Ahead: In the US, data on retail sales, manufacturing, inventories and industrial production all feature.

Today, 3.5bn shares were traded, worth $8.7bn. 499 stocks rose, 853 fell & 413 finished unchanged.

Originally published by CommSec