Australian shares lose ground for fourth-straight week
The local share market has managed to claw back some of its losses but still finished in the red for the fourth straight week.
The S&P/ASX200 on Friday finished up 28.2 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 7,283.6, leaving the benchmark index down 0.3 points since last Friday's close and down 3.6 per cent from its February 3 finish.
The broader All Ordinaries on Friday gained 24 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 7,484.
The day's gains came after a solid session on Wall Street, where the S&P500 lifted three-quarters of a per cent following some dovish FedSpeak from a non-voting member of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee.
Fed Bank of Atlanta president Raphael Bostic said overnight the US central bank "could be in a position to pause" rate hikes by the Northern Hemisphere summer.
Closer to home, 39 out of 42 experts and economists polled by Finder expect the Reserve Bank to raise rates on Tuesday, with 36 of them forecasting another 25 basis point hike that would take the cash rate to 3.6 per cent.
"A couple of weeks ago, the market was thinking that the RBA was going to start cutting rates at the end of the year - and now that's pretty much priced out of the market, meaning no cuts," Saxo Markets Australian market analyst Jessica Amir told AAP.
"So that pressured the Aussie sharemarket down for a fourth week."
While a 25 basis point rate hike on Tuesday was being taken as a given, Ms Amir said, market-watchers would be paying attention to RBA's commentary about the path of future rate-hikes for the months to come.
Also on Friday, Judo Bank purchase manager's index (PMI) data showed Australia's service sector returned to expansion in February for the first time in five months, with activity hitting its highest level since July.
"This is a clear indication that the slowdown in economic activity over the second half of 2022 has run its course," said Warren Hogan, Judo Bank's chief economic advisor.
Every sector finished higher on Friday except for the interest-rate-sensitive real estate industry, which fell 0.3 per cent. Telecommunications was the biggest gainer, rising 0.9 per cent.
For the week, the mining sector rose nearly four per cent, its best week since the start of the year. The energy sector did even better, climbing 5.2 per cent - its best week since early November - following Woodside's better-than-expected full-year earnings report on Monday.
On Friday, the independent oil and gas giant rose another 0.5 per cent, to a two-month high of $37.79, while Santos added 1.3 per cent to $7.20.
In mining, BHP rose 0.6 per cent to $48.32, Rio Tinto gained 1.6 per cent to $126.43 but Fortescue Metals fell 1.3 per cent to $22.76.
Also, Mineral Resources dropped 0.7 per cent to $89.42 as the mining services company declared its $497 million takeover offer for Norwest Energy would be its final and best bid, while Liontown Resources soared 13.4 per cent to $1.63 after Bell Potter slapped a speculative buy rating and $2.81 price target on the lithium developer.
The big banks all bounced back from Thursday's sharp sell-off prompted by a warning that Australian mortgage arrears, while still low, were increasing.
NAB rose 1.1 per cent to $29.15, CBA added 0.7 per cent to $97.75, Westpac climbed 0.4 per cent to $21.73 and ANZ gained 0.6 per cent to $23.85.
In small caps, Incannex Healthcare rose 7.7 per cent to 14c after the cannabinoid and psychedelic therapy company announced it had hired US drug company Catalent to help it develop its own supply of psilocybin for clinical trials and possible wider commercial use.
Trained Australian psychiatrists will be able prescribe psilocybin - the active ingredient in magic mushrooms - for certain mental health issues beginning in July.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Friday up 28.2 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 7,283.6
* The broader All Ordinaries rose 24 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 7,484
One Australian dollar buys:
* 67.46 US cents, from 67.38 US cents at Thursday's ASX close
* 92.18 Japanese yen, from 92.05 Japanese yen
* 63.56 Euro cents, from 63.32 Euro cents
* 56.37 British pence, from 56.20 pence
* 108.36 NZ cents, from 108.22 NZ cents.