At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.51 per cent lower at 7,198.10, after initially dropping as much as 1 per cent at the opening.
Meanwhile, in Wall Street trading, the S&P 500 closed 0.6 per cent lower, the Nasdaq Composite index, which focuses on technology stocks, experienced a 0.2 per cent decline, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average decreased by 1 per cent. At present, the Australian dollar is trading around US66.57c.
According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian wages experienced their highest annual growth rate since 2013 in the last quarter. The wage price index rose by 0.8 per cent in the March quarter compared to the previous quarter, slightly below the forecasted increase of 0.9 per cent. However, annual pay growth reached 3.7 per cent, surpassing the projected 3.6 per cent. Despite the strong wage growth, it is unlikely to immediately prompt the Reserve Bank of Australia to raise interest rates next month.
In early Asian trade, gold prices remained stable after pulling back from the significant $2,000-an-ounce level in the previous session. Spot gold was unchanged at $1,992.19 per ounce, while gold futures saw a slight increase of 0.1 per cent, reaching $1,995.40. Investors were closely monitoring the ongoing US debt-limit negotiations for potential impacts on the market.
The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 43 points.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector is Information Technology, up 1.16 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Materials, down 1.0 per cent.
The best-performing large cap is Xero (ASX:XRO), trading 1.73 per cent higher at $93.99. It is followed by shares in WiseTech Global (ASX:WTC) and Allkem (ASX:AKE).
The worst-performing large cap is Incitec Pivot (ASX:IPL), trading 8.93 per cent lower at $2.905. It is followed by shares in Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) and Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM).
Asia-Pacific markets are trading mixed as investors digested economic data from Japan and Australia. Quad leaders also cancelled a planned meeting in Sydney next week as US President Joe Biden cut his Asia trip short to return to the US for talks on the debt ceiling.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 was up 0.45 per cent in early trade, while the Topix was up 0.11 per cent, as the index maintained in levels at the highest since August 1990.
South Korea’s Kospi traded close to the flatline on Wednesday, while the Kosdaq saw a 0.49 per cent gain.
In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite ticked 0.3 per cent lower and the Shenzhen Component fell 0.18 per cent. The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong also fell 0.7 per cent.
Magnis Energy Technologies (ASX:MNS; OTCQX: MNSEF; FSE:U1P) has announced that their lithium ion cell manufacturer iM3NY has entered into a JV Agreement with OSM. iM3NY CEO commented: “This partnership is strategically important for the electrification of the automotive industry in India and the Middle East.” Shares are trading 4.76 per cent lower at 20 cents.
QX Resources (ASX:QXR) has entered a non-binding letter of intent for the right to acquire a controlling interest in a Liberty Lithium brine project — in California, USA. MD Stephen Promnitz commented, “Projects like this could be amenable for direct lithium extraction or evaporation for pre-concentration.” You can watch an FNN interview on the announcement here. Shares are trading 10.3 per cent higher at 3.8 cents.
Rhythm Biosciences (ASX:RHY) announced that its product, called ColoSTAT, has been granted UKCA Mark. Chief Commercial Officer, Elena Deak, commented “Over time we expect the market size to continue expanding, as various bodies encourage earlier age screening.” Shares are trading 81.4 per cent higher at 63.5 cents.
Wildcat Resources (ASX:WC8) is set to acquire a rich mineralised LCT pegmatite field in the world class Pilbara lithium province in WA. Executive Director Matthew Banks commented “On deal completion we will welcome a range of major shareholders to the Company and look forward to following through with discovery-focussed drill programs earmarked for 2023.” Shares are trading 35 per cent higher at 5.4 cents.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1994.60 an ounce.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a 0.41 per cent rise.
One Australian dollar is buying 66.62 US cents.