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Australian shares dip as jobs data points to further rate hike

April 13, 2023By Reuters

Australian shares snapped two sessions of gains on Thursday, as data showing a tight labour market suggested further monetary policy tightening by the country’s central bank.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.3% lower at 7,324.10, dragged by mining and banking stocks. The benchmark rose 0.5% on Wednesday.

Australia’s employment blew past expectations for a second straight month in March, while the jobless rate held near 50-year lows, pointing to a drum-tight labour market.

“This increases the likelihood of a further (and likely final) rate hike at next month’s meeting,” said Anna Milne, an equity analyst at Sydney-based Wilson Asset Management.

Analysts at Citi said in a note they expected the labour market to loosen this year, likely in the second half.

Meanwhile, minutes of the US Federal Reserve’s March meeting showed policymakers considered pausing rate hikes due to concerns related to the failures of two regional banks, and projected a “mild recession” starting later this year.

Data showed US consumer prices barely rose in March, suggesting the rate-hike cycle was nearing its end.

In Australia, financials  dipped 0.3% in their second straight session of fall.

Miners slipped 0.6%, as iron ore futures fell on pessimism spurred by tepid steel demand in China.

Index heavyweights Rio Tinto, BHP Group and Fortescue Metals Group fell between 0.7% and 1.8%.

BHP won support from OZ Minerals shareholders to proceed with its AUD 9.6 billion (USD 6.44 billion) takeover of the Australian copper and gold producer.

On the other hand, energy stocks advanced 0.9%, with Woodside Energy  and Santos adding 1.1% and 0.4%, respectively.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.1% to 11,930.86.

(Reporting by Echha Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

This article originally appeared on reuters.com

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