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Australian shares end at two-month lows amid Middle East crisis – Markets

Vaseline 2 months ago

SYDNEY: Australian shares closed 1% lower on Friday to close at a two-month low as miners and financial institutions led broad selling after reports of escalating tensions in the Middle East prompted investors to dial back their risk appetite.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed at 7,567.3 points, recording its lowest closing level since February 14. The benchmark index lost almost 3% this week, posting its biggest weekly decline since September 2023.

Multiple reports earlier in the day stated that Israel had attacked Iran, reigniting fears of an escalation in the Middle East and triggering a sell-off in global markets.

Moderate jobs data in Australia and continued hawkish comments from US Federal Reserve officials have also weighed on investors’ interest rate cut expectations over the past week.

Concerns about higher interest rates, combined with geopolitical tensions, have “made for a particularly bad week for the ASX”, Simpson said.

Miners led losses with a 1.2% decline after iron ore prices retreated.

Mining goliaths BHP and Rio Tinto fell 1% and 1.2% respectively.

Whitehaven Coal rose 0.1% after a potential sale of shares in Queensland’s Blackwater coal mine, and recorded a rise in quarterly production.

Banks fell 1.1%, bringing weekly losses to 3.1%, the biggest weekly drop since mid-March.

The ‘Big Four’ lenders fell between 1.1% and 1.6%.

Energy companies fell 0.1%, while oil and gas giant Woodside Energy lost 0.2% after a decline in quarterly revenue.

New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.3% to end the session at 11,796.21 points.