ASX down 1.34pc, worst fall in three weeks

·3-min read

Australia's share market had its biggest fall in more than three weeks, set in train from the US where worries continued over a struggling economy and inflation expectations.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 92.1 points, or 1.34 per cent, to 6793.8.

As recently as Tuesday the index closed higher than 6900 points for the first time since February last year.

The All Ordinaries on Friday closed lower by 91.5 points, or 1.28 per cent, at 7064.0.

The energy sector fared worst, down by 3.57 per cent after oil prices dipped.

Health and materials slipped by more than two per cent.

Earlier, US markets closed lower. Investors moved out of big technology companies, while there was an unexpected rise in weekly US jobless claims.

The ASX200 fell 0.19 per cent for the week and posted consecutive weeks of losses.

Deep Data Analytics chief executive Mathan Somasundaram had concerns.

"It was a matter of time before we had a reality check. This is exactly the same time as last year when the ASX started to wobble," he said, referring to the indices' plunge due to the coronavirus threat.

Mr Somasundaram said rising bond yields showed inflation remained a concern for investors.

Investors may fear their returns will not keep pace with what could be a rising value of money.

He also cited comments by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who said the economy was still in a deep hole and President Biden's $US1.9 trillion relief plan should not be reduced.

Ms Yellen said infrastructure works were planned to boost the economy, and would be paid for by higher corporate taxes.

Mr Somasundaram said those taxes would affect company profits.

Economic news was different in Australia.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' preliminary figures for retail trade in January showed a 0.6 per cent increase, after a 4.1 per cent drop in December.

On the ASX, jeweller Lovisa was a big improver following its first-half earnings.

It rose 19.27 per cent to $13.12 after investors tipped sales to bounce back from COVID-19 declines.

Net profit was down 22 per cent to $21.5 million.

Investors will receive an interim payout of 20 cents per share, 50 per cent franked. This was higher from the previous interim dividend of 15 cents per share, fully franked.

Another performer was Novonix, which makes materials for the growing lithium battery market.

Its shares jumped 14.93 per cent to $3.31 after a deal to make energy storage systems with Emera Technologies.

The companies will target sales in North America.

Iron ore miners dropped despite the price of the commodity climbing to more than $US170 per tonne.

BHP lost 2.45 per cent to $47.32, Fortescue shed 3.66 per cent to $23.97 and Rio Tinto dipped 3.33 per cent to $123.26.

In banking, ANZ fared best and was higher by 0.23 per cent to $26.61. The other members of the big four all lost more than one per cent.

Next week, earnings reporting will resume on Monday and include Ampol and BlueScope Steel.

Woolworths' first-half earnings will likely attract most attention on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Afterpay and Qantas, which have had contrasting fortunes of late, should intrigue investors with their reports.

The Aussie dollar was buying 77.88 US cents at 1718 AEDT, higher from 77.54 US cents at Thursday's close.


* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed lower by 92.1 points, or 1.34 per cent, to 6793.8 on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries closed lower by 91.5 points, or 1.28 per cent, at 7064.0.

* At 1718 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was higher by seven points, or 0.1 per cent, at 6739 points.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 77.88 US cents, from 77.54 cents on Thursday

* 82.22 Japanese yen, from 82.11 yen

* 64.36 Euro cents, from 64.38 cents

* 55.70 British pence, from 56.01 pence

* 107.75 NZ cents, from 107.94 cents.