ASX slumps as miners, energy stocks fall; consumer sentiment drops

By Millie Muroi

The Australian sharemarket was red across the board on Tuesday with mining, energy and utilities stocks leading the Australian sharemarket down after the iron ore price tumbled overnight and traders looked to the European sharemarket for direction, lacking a lead from Wall Street.

The S&P/ASX 200 dropped 88.6 points, or 1.2 per cent, to 7407.7 at about 12.15pm AEDT with only a handful of large-cap companies trading higher.

European markets took centre stage with Wall Street closed.
European markets took centre stage with Wall Street closed.Credit: Getty Images

Consumer staples (down 1.2 per cent) were among the weakest companies on the index as supermarket giants Coles (down 1.8 per cent) and Woolworths (down 1.4 per cent) both declined.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index dropped 1.3 per cent in January. Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan said high interest rates and cost of living continued to dominate sentiment among consumers.

“The latest January read is in the bottom 7 per cent of all observations since the survey was first run in the mid-1970s,” he said. “More pessimistic starts to the year have only been seen during the deep recession of the early 1990s.”

Energy companies (down 1.5 per cent) were also weaker as oil heavyweights Woodside (down 1.5 per cent) and Santos (down 1.9 per cent) fell following a 0.2 per cent drop in Brent crude oil prices overnight.

Miners (down 1.6 per cent) lost ground after iron ore prices dropped over concerns about a weakening Chinese economy and heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait and the Red Sea. South32 lost 3.7 per cent, BHP shed 1.4 per cent and Fortescue slid 2.3 per cent.

Seven Group Holdings (down 3.7 per cent), Incitec Pivot (down 3 per cent) and Boral (down 2.8 per cent) were also among the biggest large-cap decliners.

Utilities (down 2 per cent) was the weakest sector as Origin dropped 2.7 per cent, APA Group shed 1.5 per cent and AGL fell 1.4 per cent.


Qantas (up 0.7 per cent), IDP Education (up 0.7 per cent) and Brambles (up 0.7 per cent) were among the few large-cap advancers.

Financials (down 0.9 per cent) and communication services (down 0.6 per cent) were the most resilient sectors, although the big four banks traded firmly in the red along with Telstra (down 0.1 per cent), REA Group (down 1.3 per cent) and TPG Telecom (down 0.8 per cent).

European stocks fell as bond yields climbed, and Chinese equities dipped after the country’s central bank unnerved investors by skipping an expected rate cut.

US markets were closed for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Europe’s STOXX 600 index was last down 0.5 per cent, taking its fall for the year to around 1 per cent, after a 13 per cent increase in 2023. Britain’s FTSE 100 was 0.4 per cent lower and Germany’s DAX was off by 0.5 per cent. The ASX dipped by 2 points on Monday.

The Chinese CSI 300 index fell to its lowest since 2019 but finished 0.1 per cent lower as investors digested its central bank’s decision to leave the medium-term policy rate unchanged on Monday, defying expectations for a cut.

Investors are set for a busy week with data on Chinese fourth-quarter growth, British inflation and US retail sales all due on Wednesday.

They will also be listening closely to central bank officials, especially the Federal Reserve’s Christopher Waller, whose dovish turn in late November helped to send markets soaring and who speaks on Tuesday.

US Treasury trading was shut on Monday, but Germany’s 10-year bond yield was up 5 basis points at 2.195 per cent, around its highest level since mid-December.

Bond prices, which move inversely to yields, fell as European Central Bank officials pushed back against market expectations for rapid interest rate cuts this year.

The focus of world leaders and executives gathering for the 54th World Economic Forum meeting this week in Davos, Switzerland, will be global politics.

However, markets showed a limited reaction to the victory of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan over the weekend, a result which displeased Beijing.

The euro was treading water at $1.095, while the dollar index rose 0.14 per cent to around 102.65. The Australian dollar traded at 66.33 US cents as of 10:42am AEDT, down 0.4 per cent.

Oil prices has drawn support from disruptions to shipping in the Red Sea, though doubts about demand this year have limited the rally. Brent crude oil was last down 0.8 per cent at $US77.66 a barrel, down from a two-week high of $US80.75 on Friday.

With Reuters

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