(Australian Associated Press)
Commonwealth Bank shares plunged and the Australian market had its steepest loss for November for a second consecutive day.
The bank’s shares dropped eight per cent on Wednesday after the company’s net interest margin was slashed in the first-quarter from low interest rates and lending competition. Shares closed at $98.99.
Each of the big four banks were lower. ANZ had the next biggest loss of two per cent.
The heavyweight miners fared little better and also weighed on an otherwise upbeat market.
Technology shares were the strongest performers after the Nasdaq proved best of the US markets.
Artificial intelligence software vendor Appen improved 4.52 per cent to $11.56.
Cargo software vendor WiseTech Global was better by about three per cent to $57.79.
On the economic front, Australian wages data showed improvement of 0.6 per cent in the September quarter.
The annual gain of 2.2 per cent is well short of the Reserve Bank target of more than three per cent for raising rates.
However analysts claimed the gains would increase as the economy recovers from the pandemic.
ANZ researcher Catherine Birch said wages growth would really accelerate next year.
This would prompt the Reserve Bank to hike rates in the first half of 2023, she said.
This is earlier than the central bank’s 2024 forecast.
In the US, the Federal Reserve faced more pressure to deal with rising inflation.
St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard called for a more hawkish stance.
On the home front, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 50.5 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 7369.9 points.
The All Ordinaries closed lower by 43.1 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 7704 points.
Crop protection provider Nufarm turned a full-year profit but it was not good enough for investors.
The company posted net profit after tax of $65.1 million for the year ended September 30 after a loss the previous year.
Shareholders will collect a full-year unfranked dividend of four cents per share. There was no payout last year.
Shares were down about eight and a half per cent to $4.59.
Telecommunications group Uniti was one of the biggest movers on the ASX as it prepares to buy back shares.
The company may buy up to 10 per cent of shares during the next 12 months.
Shares in the company were up 8.29 per cent to $4.18.
The big miners were lower. BHP lost 1.45 per cent to $35.96, Fortescue shed 1.89 per cent to $15.59, and Rio Tinto shed about one per cent to $88.91.
Car dealer group Eagers Automotive forecast higher full-year earnings despite coronavirus lockdown and supply challenges.
Operating profit for the year to December 31 was expected to be about $390 million, more than the $209 million from the previous period.
Shares were up 4.41 per cent to $14.20.
Job advertising network Seek’s full-year earnings were on course to be in the upper part of its forecast.
However, the company told its annual general meeting lots of investment would be needed in the next five years to meet its goals.
Shares were down 1.29 per cent to $35.28.
The Australian dollar was buying 72.91 US cents at 1721 AEDT, lower from 73.57 US cents at Tuesday’s close.
ON THE ASX
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 50.5 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 7369.9 points on Wednesday.
* The All Ordinaries closed lower by 43.1 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 7704 points.
* At 1721 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was unchanged at 7370 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 72.91 US cents, from 73.57 cents on Tuesday
* 83.74 Japanese yen, from 83.81 yen
* 64.52 Euro cents, from 64.52 cents
* 54.30 British pence, from 54.70 pence
* 104.11 NZ cents, from 104.32 cents.