Australian markets decline before US Fed chair Powell speech

Picture source - Getty Images
Minute Mirror - Subscribe
Minute Mirror - Subscribe

In line with other global markets, Australian shares fell on Friday, led by losses in the sector’s heavyweight banking and mining firms. Sceptical investors were watching for hints from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s speech on the direction of US monetary policy.

The S&P/ASX 200 index experienced its worst day since August 16 as a 0.9% decline brought it to 7,115.2.

It saw a 0.5% weekly decline for the second time in a row.

Market players are preparing for the possibility that Powell could take a hawkish stance in his speech later today at the Federal Reserve’s annual retreat for international central bankers in Jackson Hole.

“Powell is expected to highlight the progress made in addressing inflation this year while reiterating his recent remarks emphasising the importance of remaining vigilant,” said Hebe Chen, market analyst.

“His perspective on the future direction of the US economy is another important area of interest to me, particularly in light of the recent and ongoing headwinds from China.”

Major sub-indices ended lower in Sydney.

The ‘Big Four’ banks had declines between 0.5% and 1.8%, and interest rate-sensitive financial companies fell 1.1%.

The greatest decline in mining stock prices since August 16 was 1.6%.

Major industry players BHP Group and Rio Tinto saw declines of 1.7% and 0.9%, respectively.

The 1.4% decline in energy stocks was the sector’s worst day since August 11.

Major sector players Woodside Energy and Santos experienced a more than 1% decline apiece. Following a drop in the price of gold bullion, gold stocks declined 0.5%.

The closely correlated Wall Street counterparts of technology stocks dropped 2.5%.