Australian shares closed at a three-week low on Monday, with financial and mining stocks being the worst losers, as risk-averse investors prepared for inflation figures in local and U.S. markets later this week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.5% lower at 7,451.50, its lowest level since Dec. 19 and marking its fourth consecutive session of loss.

“There is an air of anxiety on Australian markets this week ahead of the November CPI (consumer price index) print which is due on Wednesday,” Tim Waterer, KCM Trade’s chief market analyst said.

Australia’s November retail sales figures are due on Tuesday, with analysts expecting the data will have picked up from a 0.2% monthly drop in October, owing to seasonal factors.

“Overall, traders are hoping that the key data releases this week are not so strong as to bring a potential hike from the RBA back into the picture at some point.”

Australian shares track global markets lower, financials top drag

Markets are also keeping a close eye on the U.S. inflation data due later this week, with any upside beats likely to weigh on interest rate cut expectations.

On the domestic bourse, financial stocks slipped 0.4%, led by a 0.9% decline in Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Miners declined 0.9% to a three-week low, as iron ore prices slumped.

Rio Tinto slumped 0.6%, ahead of kicking off Australia’s first production season of 2024 on Jan. 15.

Technology stocks fell 0.8% to their lowest level in 4 weeks, in tandem with a weaker close in the Wall Street.

Sector majors Xero and Australian-listed shares of Block lost 0.6% and 2.3%, respectively.

Core Lithium topped losses on the benchmark index, declining 17.4% after it flagged an impairment charge related to its Finiss operations in Northern Territory for the half-year ended December 2023.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged down 0.1% to finish the session at 11,735.42.


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