Australia stock market finished session lower on Thursday, 23 March 2023, on concerns that U.S. interest rates will stay elevated for a long period after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell dismissed market hopes of an interest rate cut later this year.
Market sentiments also dampened after Yellen and Powell contradictory messages on bank deposits. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell commented post-meeting press conference that broader protection to depositors should financial stress in the banking sector spread. But, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's knocked that hope down, telling Congress that regulators aren't looking to provide “blanket” deposit insurance to stabilise the US banking system, and that the heads of recently failed American lenders should be held accountable.
At closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index declined 46.98 points, or 0.67%, to 6,968.61. The broader All Ordinaries index decreased 52.06 points, or 0.72%, to 7,148.61.
The top performing stocks in the S&P/ASX 200 Index were UNITED MALT GROUP and BRICKWORKS, up 5.2% and 3.12% respectively. The bottom performing stocks in S&P/ASX200 index were MEGAPORT and LAKE RESOURCES N.L., down 8.52% and 8.08% respectively.
Total 9 of 11 sectors were lower along with the S&P/ASX 200 Index. Materials was bottom performing sector, falling 1.13%, energy (down 0.82%), information technology (down 0.8%), financial (down 0.77%), and A-REIT (down 0.6%) sectors. Consumer Staples was the best performing sector, gaining +0.13%.
Shares of materials declined, with BHP falling 0.8%, Rio Tinto erasing 1.1% and Fortescue Metals Group losing 3.3%.
Banks and financial stocks also weakened, following their peers in the US lower, with all big four banks in the red. Commonwealth Bank slipped 0.1%, NAB slid 1.5%, ANZ lost 0.4% and Westpac was 0.5% lower at the end of the day. “Millionaires' factory” Macquarie Group fell 1.8%.
Tech stocks closed lower. Software-defined network service provider Megaport was down 8.5%. Lake Resources and Sayona Mining slid 8.1% and 7.5% respectively.
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