Australia: Shares end lower as miners, tech stocks weigh

AUSTRALIAN shares closed lower on Friday (Aug 12) as sentiment turned sour due to worries around the US Federal Reserve's rate-hike stance, although the benchmark index recorded its fourth straight weekly gain helped by its 0.24 per cent rise for the week.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.5 per cent lower at 7,032.5 after jumping more than 1 per cent on Thursday.

Australian equities tracked declines in global markets after a Fed official said that the central bank was open for a possibility of a 75 basis point increase in rates even after the softer-than-expected inflation data in July.

"Fed members are continuing to talk a hawkish game and that has weighed on sentiment for equity traders. But we've reached that stage of the year where price action is choppy and its direction can be fickle," said Matt Simpson, market analyst at City Index.

Miners fell 0.8 per cent as iron ore futures slumped on demand worries in top steel producer China.

Heavyweights BHP and Fortescue lost 0.8 and 0.7 per cent, respectively.

Technology stocks dropped 2 per cent, marking its worst week since Jun 17. ASX-listed shares of Block dropped 4 per cent.

Energy shares were the only gainers, jumping 2.3 per cent. The sub-index saw its best week since Jun 10.

Oil and gas major Woodside Energy and Santos advanced 3.7 and 0.8 per cent respectively.

Coal explorer Stanmore Resources soared nearly 11 per cent as it said it would buy the remaining 20 per cent stake in a metallurgical coal venture in Queensland from Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co for US$380 million.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.25 per cent lower at 11,730.52.

Looking ahead, investors' focus is on central bank action. A Reuters poll showed the Reserve Bank of New Zealand will stick to hike interest rate by 50 basis point in its most aggressive tightening in over 2 decades. REUTERS

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