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Australian stocks traded in a tight range on Thursday after the US Federal Reserve warned of delays to interest rate cuts, while Woolworths slumped to a four-year low after flagging customer caution amid sales slowdown and cost-of-living pain.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.1% at 7,580.70 as of 0020 GMT, with gains in financial and gold stocks countering losses in consumer and energy stocks.

The Fed left interest rates on hold on Wednesday, but warned that recent disappointing inflation readings could further delay any impending interest rate cuts.

Investors now await a Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) policy meeting due next week, where the central bank is largely expected to keep rates on hold.

“Despite the upside surprise in Q1 CPI, we expect the RBA Board will leave the cash rate at 4.35% at its coming meeting and will not explicitly discuss a rate hike at this meeting,” analysts at ANZ wrote in a note.

Australian consumer price inflation slowed less than expected in the first quarter as service cost pressures stayed stubbornly high.

Gold stocks gained the most on the benchmark, rising 1.2% on strong bullion prices. Sector major Evolution Mining was up 1.5%.

Rate-sensitive financials climbed 0.7%.

Shares of National Australia Bank rose as much as 1.2%, even as the country’s second-largest lender reported a drop of about 13% in first-half cash earnings.

Consumer stocks fell almost 2.3% to hit a five-month low, dragged down by Woolworths. Shares of Woolworths fell as much as 4.8% to their lowest since May 29, 2020, after the country’s top supermarket chain reported a slowdown in sales from its biggest segment.

Australian shares fall as miners and banks drag; Fed in focus

Energy stocks declined almost 1%, after oil prices slumped overnight on the possibility of a Middle East ceasefire agreement. Shares of energy giants Woodside Energy and Santos were down 1.5% and 1.3%, respectively. New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was down 0.1% to 11,857.75.

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