At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.46 per cent lower at 7,226.50. The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 28 points.
The decline coincided with losses in Wall Street, where the S&P 500 fell by 1.1 per cent, the Nasdaq by 1.3 per cent, and the Dow Jones by 0.7 per cent.
The dollar opened at a rate of US66.10c.
Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse are nearing the completion of their merger, with regulatory approval expected by 31 May. Credit Suisse’s Australian bankers will initially operate as a separate business until integration, while UBS employees will receive personnel numbers and email addresses from Credit Suisse.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector is Energy, up 0.42 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Health Care, down 0.86 per cent.
The best-performing large cap is Qantas Airways (ASX:QAN), trading 1.42 per cent higher at $6.45. It is followed by shares in Lynas Rare Earths (ASX:LYC) and Infratil (ASX:IFT).
The worst-performing large cap is NEXTDC (ASX:NXT), trading 2.38 per cent lower at $11.72. It is followed by shares in IDP Education (ASX:IEL) and Reece (ASX:REH).
Asia-Pacific markets slid on Wednesday, with investors cautious as ongoing US debt ceiling discussions appeared to yield little progress.
“The president and I know the deadline, so I think we’re going to talk every day… until we get this done,” US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Monday.
Hong Kong markets led losses, with the Hang Seng index falling 1.04 per cent and the Hang Seng Tech index losing 1.78 per cent, dragged by China technology names such as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent.
Mainland Chinese markets also extended losses from Tuesday, with the Shanghai Composite down 0.78 per cent and the Shenzhen Component 0.63 per cent lower.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 slid 0.84 per cent and the Topix fell 0.36 per cent, even as the country’s business sentiment among manufacturers turned positive for the first time in 2023, according to a Reuters Tankan survey.
South Korea’s Kospi slipped 0.23 per cent, with the Kosdaq down 0.67 per cent.
Leo Lithium (ASX:LLL) has announced that further drilling at their Goulamina Lithium Project has delivered thick, high grade mineralisation. MD Simon Hay commented, “With drilling continuing, we remain on track to update the Mineral Resource Estimate in late June and release a reserve upgrade in August.” Shares are trading 5.3 per cent higher at 79.5 cents.
Empire Energy (ASX:EEG) announced that their Carpentaria-2H well in the Beetaloo Basin delivers strong gas flow rates. Comments from Managing Director Alex Underwood: “We are pleased to share the continued strong gas flow rates achieved at C-2H as they provide further confidence that an economic development in EP187 may be achievable.” Shares are trading flat at 17 cents.
Immutep (ASX:IMM) announces promising new clinical data from the triple combination therapy in INSIGHT-003 trial. Immuteps’ Chief Scientific Officer stated, “Immutep has made significant progress with our late-stage development planning to treat one of the largest cancer indications globally.” Shares are trading 6 per cent higher at 35 cents.
Cauldron Energy (ASX:CXU) announced that Program of Works, comprising of drilling at the Yanrey Uranium Project has been approved by DMIRS. CEO Jonathan Fisher commented: “We are excited to get approval for the Yanrey drill program, which will be the first for a number of years. We also look forward to further evaluating the area in which anomalous Rare Earth Elements (REEs), such as Ce, La and Nb, were reported historically.” Shares are trading 16.7 per cent higher at 0.7 cents.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1994.60 an ounce.
Iron ore is 2.3 per cent lower at US$102.40 a tonne.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a 2.5 per cent fall.
One Australian dollar is buying 66.01 US cents.