Australian shares ended lower on Tuesday, posting their biggest monthly drop in four, with technology and financial stocks leading losses, as higher first-quarter imports raised uncertainty about upcoming growth data and interest rate hikes.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 1% lower at 7211.2.
The benchmark has lost more than 3% in May. Australia’s current account surplus shrank unexpectedly in the first quarter, partly due to a jump in imports, fuelling uncertainty over the GDP data releasing Wednesday, a vital data point in determining the scale of the next interest rate move by its central bank.
“One can expect the share market to remain volatile following the release of March quarter GDP data, which will be closely watched by the RBA for its interest rate decision next week,” said Kunal Sawhney, chief executive officer of Kalkine Group.
Still, analysts at RBC raised their first-quarter GDP outlook to 1.1% from 0.7% earlier, buoyed by a much stronger inventory build up coupled with upside government expenditure.
Broader sentiment was also subdued in early Asian trading though it recovered, helped by after upbeat factory activity data and details of new policy support in China.
Financials, down 2%, fell most since May 6.
All top four banks in Australia dropped between 1.4% and 2.8%.
Technology stocks snapped a three-day rally, falling 1.9%.
Sector majors Xero, Block and Wisetech Global slipped between 2.5% and 3.2%.
Fintech company Tyro Payments was the top loser on the benchmark among individual stocks, slumping 6.6%.
Bucking the trend, gold stocks surged 0.4% to a near one-week high, with heavyweights Newcrest Mining and Evolution Mining adding 0.1% and 0.5%, respectively.
New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 rose 1.5% to 11308.3, but ended more than 4.8% lower for the month.