Australian shares hit 1-month low on tech sell-off

Australian shares fell on Wednesday to their lowest close in a month, weighed down by technology stocks after a spike in U.S. Treasury yields on prospects of aggressive interest rate hikes sent Wall Street peers lower overnight.

The S&P/ASX 200 closed 1% lower at 7,332.50 in its second straight session of fall, with tech stocks shedding 2.6% to hit their lowest in nearly eight months.

Buy now, pay later firm Afterpay slid 1.2%, while Xero and WiseTech Global retreated 2.4% and 4.2%, respectively.

Brad Smoling, managing director of Smoling Stockbroking, said a subdued start to the U.S. earnings season also weighed on sentiment.

“Rates are really high on U.S. Treasury yields, sending a lot of nerves in the market,” he said.

Among other sectors, financials dropped 1.4%, after authorities said Australia should brace for more COVID-19 deaths for the next few weeks, as record infections fuelled by the Omicron outbreak overwhelmed health systems.

Surveys released this week showed Australian consumer sentiment was hit in January as a surge in coronavirus cases filled up hospitals and curbed spending.

Weak bullion prices reduced the appeal of gold stocks, sending the sectoral sub-index down 1.9%.

Gold majors Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources were down 0.9% and 3.4%, respectively.

Energy stocks rose 0.6% as oil prices rallied to a seven-year high amid tight supply outlook and geopolitical troubles in Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

Oil and gas explorers Woodside Petroleum and Santos rose 0.9% and 2%, respectively.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 fell 1.6% to 12,612.31.


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