ASX falls as inflation data, US Fed loom
Shares were lower on the ASX in what could be an eventful week with some key data and decisions due.
The market was down 0.86 per cent on Monday prior to Australian inflation data on Tuesday and a US Federal Reserve policy meeting later in the week.
Analysts have tipped fourth-quarter inflation to have risen 3.1 per cent over 12 months as the supply challenges of the pandemic move prices higher.
The Reserve Bank has a rates meeting next week and the data will be influential to its decisions and commentary.
The US central bank has a rates meeting this week although is not tipped to hike just yet. Many are concerned it will flag aggressive rate hikes to come as early as March due to surging inflation.
On the ASX, the heavyweight materials shares were faring worst and dropped two per cent.
Energy and technology shares were down a little more than one per cent.
Property shares did best and were up about half a per cent.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 62.2 points, or 0.86 per cent, to 7113.6 points at 1200 AEDT.
The All Ordinaries index was lower by 73.8 points, or 0.98 per cent, to 7416.3 points.
The market has a shortened week due to the Australia Day public holiday on Wednesday.
In company news, Fortescue Metals is buying an engineering offshoot of the Williams F1 team to help its green energy operations.
Fortescue has been working with Williams Advanced Engineering to design batteries for electric trucks and will pay $228 million for the business.
Fortescue Future Industries will oversee the engineering arm.
Shares were down 2.34 per cent to $20.45.
Among the other major iron ore miners, BHP slipped 1.44 per cent to $45.04 and Rio Tinto lost 1.37 per cent to $107.23.
Furniture trader Adairs flagged first-half sales were stagnant on the same period the year prior.
Group sales slipped 0.5 per cent, mostly due to coronavirus lockdowns in the eastern states.
The costs of doing business in the half were also higher.
Shares were down almost 23 per cent to $2.94.
Health insurer NIB will delay raising premiums until September as a form of financial relief for customers during the pandemic.
Premiums were due to go up by an average of 2.66 per cent from April 1.
NIB was down 1.52 per cent to $6.44.
Most financial shares were down. The big four banks were all lower. ANZ fared worst and dropped 1.24 per cent to $27.76.
Telecommunications group Uniti was soaring after it revealed more than one group has made takeover inquiries.
No details of timing, price or conditions were provided.
Uniti climbed about nine per cent to $4.10.
A Korean consortium has moved a step closer to investing in Australian Strategic Minerals’ Dubbo project in NSW.
The South Korean group has finished examining the financials of the project, a potential source of rare earths.
The group has proposed paying $348 million for a 20 per cent stake.
Australian Strategic Minerals was little changed at $8.51.
The Australian dollar was buying 71.79 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 71.86 US cents at Friday’s close.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails