At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.27 per cent lower at 7,324.10, led by losses in the consumer staples and materials sectors.
BHP Group (ASX:BHP) shares dropped 0.9 per cent, and the big four banks had mixed performance, with Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) shares falling 1 per cent, National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) shares remaining flat, Westpac (ASX:WBC) dropping 0.1 per cent, and Australia and New Zealand Bank (ASX:ANZ) shares rising 0.4 per cent. Iron ore futures traded lower on the Singapore index, down 1.5 per cent to US$118.65 on the April contract.
According to RBC Capital, the March labour force report in Australia should keep the Reserve Bank of Australia vigilant on wages, inflation, and consistent with its tightening bias. The jobless rate remained steady at 3.5 per cent, and the economy created 53,006 new jobs in March, exceeding forecasts.
The tightening of labour markets is likely to make global central banks wary and maintain a tightening bias even as they approach peak rates. RBC Capital predicts a 25 basis points hike in the RBA profile in May, although it may come later. Bond yields rose, with the three-year rate up by six basis points to 2.9 per cent.
The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 10 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a rise of 4.5 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a rise of 23.5 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 23 points when the market next opens.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector was Information Technology, up 0.99 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Consumer Staples, down 1.19 per cent.
The best-performing large cap was Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC), closing 2.67 per cent higher at $6.91. It was followed by shares in Mercury NZ (ASX:MCY) and TPG Telecom (ASX:TPG).
The worst-performing large cap was Atlas Arteria (ASX:ALX), closing 2.69 per cent lower at $6.16. It was followed by shares in Coles Group (ASX:COL) and IDP Education (ASX:IEL).
Japan’s Nikkei has gained 0.18 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.62 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has lost 0.85 per cent.
Omega Oil & Gas (ASX:OMA) has achieved outstanding exploration success, in which their canyon 2 well in the Bowen Basin has intersected 293 metres of gas. Managing Director Lauren Bennett commented: “Omega’s proximity to well established QLD gas infrastructure and the clear requirement for more gas places Omega in a favourable position to build on this exploration success.” Shares closed 34.6 per cent higher at 26.3 cents.
Future Battery Minerals (ASX:FBM) announced that assay results have confirmed the discovery of Lithium bearing claystone at the Nevada Lithium Project in the US. In response, Technical Director Robin Cox commented: “The results have far exceeded all expectations, which is a credit to our in-country team who have done a remarkable job planning and executing the maiden drill programme.” Shares closed 15 per cent at 9.2 cents.
RareX (ASX:REE) has announced an update to their recent Mineral Resource, re-framing the Cummins Range Project as a highly significant phosphate-hosted rare earths deposit commencing from surface. The recent Mineral Resource update, will be followed by a further significant Resource update due by late April 2023. Shares closed 1.64 per cent higher at 6.2 cents.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$2,030.40 an ounce.
Light crude is trading $0.21 lower at US$83.05 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 67.03 US cents.