June 30 (Reuters) - Australian shares skidded on Thursday,
on course for their worst month since March 2020, as recent
comments from U.S. Federal Reserve officials reaffirmed fears of
a sharp economic slowdown amid attempts to contain soaring
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3% to 6,677.8 by 0050
GMT, shedding 7.6% so far in June in what would be its third
straight monthly decline.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a European Central Bank
conference there is a risk the U.S. central bank's interest rate
hikes will slow the economy too much, but the bigger risk is
Energy stocks were the top losers on the Australian
benchmark index, shedding as much as 1.7% on lower oil prices.
Sector leaders Woodside Energy and Santos gave
up 2.1% and 0.2%, respectively.
The sub-index, however, was on track for its best
half-yearly performance since June 2005, rising more than 30%
since the start of this year.
Meanwhile, shares of AGL Energy jumped as much as
1.7% after the country's top power producer said a unit of
Canadian investment manager Brookfield Asset Management
acquired about 2.6% of its stake on June 24.
Financials also weighed on the benchmark, declining
as much as 1% in what could be their worst session since June
17. The country's so-called "big four" banks were down between
0.6% and 0.9%.
The sub-index has slumped more than 10% since the start of
Exports-centric miners slumped as much as 1.3% on
Thursday as iron ore prices retreated after a two-day rally.
Sector leaders BHP Group, Rio Tinto and
Fortescue slipped between 1% and 2%.
Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50
index was largely unchanged.
(Reporting by Roushni Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu