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Markets

Australian shares skid as concerns over bond yields persist

  • Oil Search rose 4.51% and Woodside Petroleum gained 3.9%.
Published March 5, 2021

Australian shares fell on Friday, following a slump on Wall Street as investors turned jittery after US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell failed to quell concerns around rising US bond yields.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell as much as 1.1% to 6,687.1 by 0002 GMT.

Overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.1% and the S&P 500 lost 1.3%. The Nasdaq dropped 2.1% and was down nearly 10% from its February record high.

Powell's comments did not point to changes in the Fed's asset purchases to tackle the recent jump in yields, even as some investors had expected it would step up purchases of long-term bonds.

The Australian benchmark was still on track to record modest gains for the week, helped by upbeat fourth-quarter gross domestic product data and the central bank's pledge to hold interest rates at a record low earlier this week.

Technology stocks tracked losses in the tech-heavy Nasdaq and fell 3.5%. Nearmap shed 4.1%, while buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay gave up 2.8%.

The mining sub-index slid 0.6%, weighed down by a 12.5% drop in lithium-boron supplier Ioneer after a discounted share placement.

Heavyweights Rio Tinto and BHP declined as much as 2.9% and 2.1%, respectively.

However, energy stocks outperformed as they surged 3.1% after crude prices hit a more than one-year high overnight.

Oil Search rose 4.51% and Woodside Petroleum gained 3.9%.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.8% to 12,121.6.

Dairy producer Fonterra hit its highest since August 2018 after it raised the outlook for prices it would pay farmers for the 2021 season for the second time in just over a month.

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