SYDNEY, AAP – Shares were doing little on the ASX early as Victorians endure their first day of a new coronavirus lockdown, joining many in NSW.
The major share categories of financials and materials were lower by 0.2 per cent on Friday as the ASX200 remained close to record highs.
Technology shares had the biggest drop, 0.7 per cent. The US Nasdaq closed lower by the same measure overnight.
The top ASX categories were consumer discretionaries and property, higher by half of one per cent.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 3.3 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 7332.6 at 1200 AEST.
The All Ordinaries was lower by 3.1 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 7613.5.
Wall Street’s S&P 500 contributed to a lacklustre lead by closing lower by 0.33 per cent.
Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, on the second day of his appearance before US Congress, said he anticipated worker shortages and high inflation would abate.
Both have been caused by the US economy’s rapid revival from the lows of the pandemic.
Data shows the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to a 16-month low.
The data supports concerns that employers do not have many idle Americans to recruit when trying to expand their operations. Foreign workers are scarce amid the pandemic.
In Australia, Victorian leaders reported six new virus infections on the first day of a five-day lockdown.
More than six million Victorians have joined many of their NSW counterparts under stay-at-home orders due to the Delta variant.
People in Sydney and surrounds remain in lockdown until at least July 30.
On the ASX, AMP will not face criminal prosecution three years after a banking royal commission found it had charged customers fees for no service.
Corporate regulator ASIC said it had ended its investigation into the issue involving customers being charged for financial advice despite not having a financial adviser under its buyer of last resort arrangements.
Shares were down 1.8 per cent to $1.09.
Rio Tinto reported lower than expected iron ore production and shipments for its second quarter.
Heavy rain in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, and coronavirus measures, limited efforts.
Royal Bank of Canada mining analyst Kaan Peker said production figures were down across the board.
Shares were lower by 0.58 per cent to $130.37.
Rio’s main rivals fared better. BHP gained 0.13 per cent to $51.60, only 22 cents below its record price. Fortescue climbed 0.77 per cent to $25.92.
In banking, the big four banks were all lower by less than one per cent.
The Australian dollar was buying 74.16 US cents at 1200 AEST, lower from 74.83 US cents at Thursday’s close.