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ASX dips 0.3pct ahead of Fed meeting

·3-min read

The local bourse has closed slightly lower in a mostly directionless session ahead of this week's big Federal Reserve meeting.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Monday faded in the final minutes of trade to finish down 19.2 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 6719.9. The broader All Ordinaries dipped 26.6 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 6948.6.

City Index market analyst Tony Sycamore told AAP that Monday was "the calm before the storm," referring to the Federal Reserve's announcement on the next round of interest rate hikes this Thursday morning, Australia time.

"We've got a pattern where the markets have been wrong-footed, twice over the past three weeks - they've been very dramatic reversals, and they've paid the price," Mr Sycamore said.

"There is no interest in making it three for three, so it's a very very quiet session."

The heavyweight mining and financial sectors were basically flat, with property the only sector to gain ground, rising 0.9 per cent.

Mr Sycamore linked those gains to Tuesday's release of Reserve Bank of Australia minutes likely detailing how the central bank will try to "thread the needle," raising rates without inducing a recession.

"And beyond that, very very little else to go on - gold seems to be breaking down but I don't know how you reconcile that with the fact that goldminers have been really strong," Mr Sycamore said.

Newcrest gained 1.7 per cent, Northern Star added 2.8 per cent and Evolution climbed 1.0 per cent.

But Rio Tinto was flat at $92.39 and the other two iron ore giants lost ground. BHP dipped 0.6 per cent to $37.81 and Fortescue Metals retreated 1.0 per cent to $17.45.

OZ Minerals was up 3.5 per cent to $26.13 after Bloomberg News reported over the weekend that BHP was considering upping its $8.4 billion, $25-per-share offer for the copper miner.

"That still suggests that the outlook BHP has for commodity prices potentially isn't quite as bearish as everybody else's thinking," Mr Sycamore said.

Elsewhere in the sector, Lake Resources added 12.4 per cent to $1.045 after announcing progress on a "demonstration plant" at its Kachi lithium mine project in Argentina.

Fellow lithium play Pilbara gained 3.5 per cent to an all-time closing high of $4.75.

The big banks were mixed, with CBA up 0.5 per cent to $94.66, but NAB down 0.9 per cent to $29.70. Both ANZ and Westpac were flat, at $23.56 and $21.55, respectively.

Origin Energy was down .0.9 per cent to $5.76 as the oil and gas producer offloaded its gas rights in the Northern Territory's Beetaloo Basin to focus on "cleaner" projects.

Origin expects to record a non-cash loss of $70 million to $90 million related to the transaction.

Tech fell 1.3 per cent with Afterpay owner Block down 4.5 per cent to $96.50 and Link Group down 2.0 per cent to $3.40 as its potential acquisition by Canada's Dye & Durham hit a snag.

In healthcare, Polynovo rose 10 per cent to a four-week high of $1.49 after the biotech company announced the US Food and Drug Administration had approved its new skin substitute product.

The Australian dollar meanwhile was buying 66.88 US cents, from 66.75 US cents at Friday's close.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Monday dropped 19.2 points to 6719.9 , a 0.28 per cent fall.

* The broader All Ordinaries dipped 26.6 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 6948.6.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 66.88 US cents, from 66.75 US cents at Friday's close

* 95.88 Japanese yen, from 95.75 yen

* 67.06 Euro cents, from 67.83 cents

* 58.74 British pence, from 58.75 pence

* 112.31 NZ cents, from 112.19 cents.