July 27 (Reuters) - Australian shares inched lower on
Wednesday as caution prevailed ahead of local inflation data and
a U.S. Federal Reserve policy statement.
The S&P/ASX 200 index had slipped 0.16% by 0101 GMT
after rising 0.07% in early trade. The benchmark rose 0.26% on
Economists polled by Reuters see Australia's year-on-year
headline inflation hitting 6.3% in the second quarter, the
highest since 1990. Meeting or beating it could support the
Aussie by ramping up interest rate-hike expectations.
Investors are expecting a 75-basis-point Fed rate increase,
with markets pricing about a 10% risk of a larger hike. They are
also waiting to see whether economic warning signs prompt a
shift in rhetoric.
In Australia, gold stocks rose 2.3% on the back of
higher bullion prices and were among the top gainers on the
benchmark. Newcrest Mining, the country's largest gold
miner, climbed 1.6%.
Technology stocks shed 0.67%, leading losses on the
benchmark after a weak Wall Street session overnight as downbeat
U.S. consumer confidence data fuelled fears about an economic
ASX-listed shares of Block Inc fell 3.8% and were
the top losers on the sub-index.
Miners dropped 0.16% even after iron ore futures
touched two-week highs on Tuesday. BHP Group and Rio
Tinto slipped 0.7% and 0.8%, respectively.
Energy stocks lost 0.11% after oil prices settled
lower overnight. Woodside Energy Group jumped 0.9%,
while Santos declined 0.1%.
Financials slid 0.09%, but the big four banks were
up between 0.04% and 0.72%.
Among individual stocks, Westpac rose 0.33% as it
announced plans to reduce its lending to coal, oil and gas
companies, and said it would entirely shift to renewable
electricity for its own operations by 2025.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index climbed
0.46% to 11217.66.
(Reporting by Navya Mittal in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu