Australia: Shares end flat ahead of US inflation data

[BENGALURU] Australian shares surrendered early gains in a choppy session to end flat on Tuesday as investors awaited inflation data from the United States before making further bets, with energy and mining firms cancelling out gains in tech stocks.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 0.04 per cent at 6,976.9 points, having gained as much as 0.3 per cent during the session.

"The market is mainly in a holding pattern in anticipation of the US inflation data coming tonight and it may be a catalyst for some direction," said Mathan Somasundaram, chief executive officer at Deep Data Analytics.

"Trading turnover has been relatively low as the market awaits the US Fed's comment on the inflation number to see if it is too far out of their comfort zone or not, so the next 24-48 hours are crucial."

Australian mining stocks tumbled 0.7 per cent to mark their third straight session in the red, even as iron ore prices jumped on robust demand worldwide.

Heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto fell as much as 0.9 per cent and 1.1 per cent, respectively.

Energy stocks also ended 0.7 per cent lower. Oil and gas explorer Beach Energy declined 2.6 per cent, while transport fuel supplier Ampol lost up to 2.3 per cent.

By contrast, buy now, pay later firm Zip Co soared as much as 18 per cent after it posted record third-quarter revenue and customer growth and unveiled plans to expand into Canada and South-east Asia.

Zip's larger rival and tech index darling Afterpay hit a six-week high and rose as much as 4.2 per cent, pushing the sub-index 2.2 per cent higher.

Gold-nickel-lithium miner IGO climbed as much as 4.7 per cent after agreeing to sell its 30 per cent stake in the Tropicana mine for A$903 million (S$922 million).

In New Zealand, where the central bank is expected to leave interest rates unchanged on Wednesday, the S&P/NZX 50 closed 1.1 per cent higher at 12,656.4.


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