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ASX slides on tepid Chinese data

AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY
Shares slipped to start the trading week after a round of weak economic data weighed on miners and energy stocks. Picture: NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

Australian shares lost ground on Monday after a round of disappointing Chinese economic data added to investors’ concerns, who were already uncertain ahead of the Reserve Bank’s imminent interest rate decision.

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX200 slipped 0.3 per cent, or 24 points, to 7700.3, while the broader All Ordinaries suffered heavier losses, falling 0.4 per cent to 7943.6.

The Australian dollar finished lower for a third consecutive session, buying US66.01c at 4pm.

With investors and economists anticipating the RBA will keep the cash rate on hold at 4.35 per cent, AMP economist Diana Mousina said analysts would be instead paying close attention to the board’s statement and governor Michele Bullock’s post-meeting press conference.

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“There is no reason for the RBA to change its assessment that the current stance of monetary policy is appropriate but that they can’t rule anything ‘in or out’ in terms of interest rates,” Ms Mousina said.

RBA
With the RBA all but certain to keep the cash rate on hold at 4.35 per cent, investors will be closely watching governor Michele Bullock’s post-meeting remarks. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short

“The board will probably debate the merits of a rate hike at the meeting but this is not a sign that the RBA is willing or ready to raise interest rates again.”

Interest rate sensitive tech stocks were the worst performing, down 1.5 per cent, with the sector weighed down by Wisetech shares which sank 4.1 per cent to $92.22.

Fellow sector heavyweights Xero and NextDC also finished in the red, of 1.3 per cent to $129.22 and 1.8 per cent to $17.93, respectively.

Tracking a fall in the oil price as Brent crude slid to $US82 a barrel, energy stocks also came under pressure. Santos sank 1.6 per cent to $7.35, Woodside eased 1 per cent to $26.98, Ampol slumped 1.9 per cent to $32.46 and Beach Energy fell 1.9 per cent to $1.57.

Material stocks also dragged on the benchmark, off 1.1 per cent as iron ore futures traded down 2.6 per cent to $US104.70 a tonne on the Singapore Exchange after a series of new data points ignited fresh fears about the tepidness of China’s economic recovery.

Heavyweight miners slipped on the fresh figures with BHP down 1.3 per cent to $42.54, Fortescue off 1 per cent to $22.98 and Rio Tinto 1.7 per cent lower to $118.16.

Elsewhere in commodities, gold stocks outperformed, following a rally in the spot price for the precious metal as investors bolstered their bets that the US Federal Reserve would cut interest rates this year.

A weak round of Chinese economic data added to fears that the world’s largest economy was struggling to recover. Picture: Supplied.
A weak round of Chinese economic data added to fears that the world’s largest economy was struggling to recover. Picture: Supplied.

Capricorn Metals jumped 4.5 per cent to $4.66, West African Resources climbed 2.5 per cent to $1.42 and De Grey Mining added 1.5 per cent to $1.03.

Also offsetting declines on the benchmark was a rally in financials, up 0.3 per cent, as NAB shares hit a decade high at $35.29 a piece before closing up 0.7 per cent to $35.26.

The remaining big four bank stocks also gained with CBA up 0.1 per cent to $125.49, while ANZ added 0.2 per cent to $28.80 and Westpac climbed 0.7 per cent to $26.97.

In individual stocks, wagering giant Tabcorp Holdings rose 0.8 per cent to 66c after it named former Australian Football League boss Gillon McLachlan as its new chief executive.

Automotive parts retailer Bapcor slid 2.2 per cent to $4.89 after it reported it had refinanced $200 million of its debt facilities, which had been due to mature in mid-2025. The company also announced George Saoud as its next chief financial officer, effective July 1.

Capitol Health was the top performer, soaring 10.2 per cent to 27c after larger rival Internal Diagnostics announced plans to merge with its competitor. The deal values smaller firm at approximately $413m.