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Australian shares slip as slowdown fears return, energy top loser

06/29/2022 | 09:46pm

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 inflation.

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 persistent inflation.

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 this year.

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 Sahu)

© Reuters 2022
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