The local share market has edged lower this morning, ahead of a busy week of central bank meetings.
At noon AEDT on Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 16 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 7,477.8, putting it on track for just its fifth day of losses this year. The broader All Ordinaries was down 12.5 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 7697.
The US Federal Reserve is set to hand down its latest decision on rate hikes on Thursday at 6am AEDT, with a 25 basis point hike widely expected. The European Central Bank and the Bank of England will both announce their own rate hike rulings overnight Thursday/Friday, Australia time.
Closer to home, markets had raised the odds of another 25 basis point rate hike from the Reserve Bank on February 7 from about one in two to three in four following last week’s higher-than-expected fourth-quarter inflation readout.
The ASX’s 11 official sectors were mixed on Monday, with five up and six down.
Consumer staples was the biggest laggard, falling 0.8 per cent as Coles dropped 1.4 per cent and Metcash fell 3.2 per cent on the departure of longtime executive, food division CEO Scott Marshall.
In the financial sector, insurance companies were having a dour day after IAG and Suncorp said they had received thousands of claims related to the weekend flooding in and around Auckland.
IAG, which had received 5,000 claims, was down 4.1 per cent to $4.87. Suncorp, which had received 3,000, was down 2.2 per cent to $12.525. Both companies said they expected claims to rise as more customers return to their homes.
The big banks were mixed, with NAB and CBA basically flat, ANZ up 0.3 per cent and Westpac down 0.5 per cent.
In the healthcare sector, ResMed had sunk 7.1 per cent to a two-week low of $31.26 as the market continued to digest Friday’s second-quarter earnings report.
The heavyweight mining sector was down 0.6 per cent, with Fortescue Metals falling 2.2 per cent to $21.99, BHP down 0.5 per cent to $49.28 and Rio Tinto down 1.1 per cent to $125.52.
But Lynas was up 4.9 per cent to a three-month high of $9.52 after the rare earth miner said its production and sales recovered in the December quarter after following water supply disruptions in the prior quarter.
The tech sector was the biggest gainer, rising nearly two per cent as Wisetech Global climbed 4.2 per cent to a four-month high of $59.98.
Meanwhile the Australian dollar was buying 71 US cents, from 71.10 US cents at Friday’s ASX close.
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