(Updates to close)
May 4 - Australian shares closed lower in volatile trading
on Wednesday as gains in the heavyweight financial segment
failed to offset a slump in gold and mining stocks, ahead of the
outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve's meet.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.16% to 7304.7. The
benchmark slipped 0.4% on Tuesday.
The U.S. central bank kicked off its two-day policy meeting
on Tuesday. Traders see a 99.9% chance of a 50 basis-point hike
on Wednesday, according to CME's FedWatch Tool https://www.cmegroup.com/tools-information/quikstrike/treasury-watch.html,
which would mark the largest rate increase by the Fed since May
Local miners fell 1.2% to touch a one-week low as
lingering demand worries over top metals consumer China's
COVID-19 lockdown dragged iron ore prices lower.
Sector giants BHP and Rio Tinto crashed by
0.6% and 0.7% respectively, while Fortescue Metals lost
2.4% to hit a one-week low.
China's zero-tolerance policy and COVID-19 lockdowns are
driving down global growth and could continue to affect domestic
miners in the days ahead, Henry Jennings, senior analyst at
Marcustoday Financial Newsletter said.
The gold sub-index tumbled 1% to hit its lowest
since March 2, with sector leaders Newcrest Mining and
Northern star losing 0.9% and 1.3% each.
Bucking the trend, financials surged 0.7%.
Heavyweights Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac
Banking climbed 0.7% each, while the National Australia
Bank rose 1% to mark its best day in over five weeks.
Australia and New Zealand Banking also advanced as
much as 2.1%, after the country's No. 4 lender beat estimates
for first-half profit.
Australian retail sales beat expectations for a third
straight month in March, helping the country weather this week's
rise in interest rates, data from the Australian Bureau of
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended the
session flat after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand said the
country's financial system remained robust in the context of
significant global economic challenges.
(Reporting by Roushni Nair in Bengluru;
Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)