SYDNEY, AAP – Declines in financials and healthcare stocks were dragging the Australian market lower by about half a per cent.
The big four banks were all down by more than one per cent while healthcare giant CSL shed 2.45 per cent to $293.01 on Wednesday.
Energy shares dropped 1.36 per cent.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was lower by 37.2 points, or 0.50 per cent, to 7305 at 1200 AEST.
The All Ordinaries was down by 29.8 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 7562.9.
The local market did not follow Wall Street’s direction, partly due to the ASX not having as many big technology stocks.
These stocks proved popular in the US overnight as investors shifted their focus to growth stocks.
Growth stocks have rallied since the Federal Reserve last week took a stance on future rate hikes viewed by many as more aggressive than expected.
The Nasdaq ended at a record high, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 also closed higher.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told US Congress the central bank will encourage a “broad and inclusive” recovery of the job market and will not raise interest rates too quickly due to inflation fears.
In Australia, the NSW government tightened coronavirus restrictions on many Sydneysiders’ movement as a virus outbreak reached 31 infections.
People in parts of the city’s eastern suburbs and inner west are banned from leaving Sydney.
Other states and territories, as well as New Zealand, have also banned the same people from entering their region.
Meanwhile, Australia’s trade surplus was a record $13.3 billion in May, preliminary figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed.
Exports rose 11 per cent in May to $39.2 billion, while imports increased by one per cent to $25.9 billion.
Iron ore exports to China rose 20 per cent to $12.7 billion, the third consecutive monthly record.
On the ASX, the big iron ore miners were all higher.
BHP was best and rose by 0.87 per cent to $47.09.
Technology shares proved most popular and gained 1.34 per cent.
Buy now, pay later provider Afterpay climbed 3.13 per cent to $122.85.
Financial software provider Bravura Solutions was better by four per cent to $3.64.
Woolworths will write-down the value of 13 of its CBD stores by about $50 million as they struggle for sales with fewer office workers nearby.
The supermarket giant mentioned the charge while flagging its full-year earnings were likely to include a $57 million pre-tax net gain from significant items.
Shares were down 1.63 per cent to $42.64.
Fruit and vegetable grower Costa Group will buy citrus grower 2PH Farms for about $200 million.
Costa will raise $190 million from a share sale to help fund the purchase.
Trading of Costa shares had been paused. They last traded at $3.40.
In banking, Westpac fared worst of the big four and lost 1.61 per cent to $26.18.
There were bigger falls for other banks. Bendigo lost 2.66 per cent to $10.39 and Bank of Queensland shed 2.59 per cent to $9.02.
The Australian dollar was buying 75.41 US cents at 1200 AEST, higher from 75.16 US cents at Tuesday’s close.