ASX slides 0.3%: concerns loom over steel demand in China

Market Reports

by Peter Milios

On Tuesday, the ASX witnessed a downturn, predominantly influenced by a notable sell-off in mining and energy sectors, triggered by weakened commodity prices. The S&P/ASX 200 index slid by 0.3%, equivalent to 23.9 points, halting a two-day consecutive upward trend, while the broader All Ordinaries index also experienced a decline of 0.4%, settling at 7994.1 points. Among the eleven sectors on the ASX, nine ended the day in negative territory, with energy and materials sectors bearing the brunt of the losses.

Key players in the mining sector, including BHP, Rio Tinto, and Fortescue, experienced declines, with BHP witnessing a 1.2% drop to $44.28, Rio shedding 0.8% to $127.47, and Fortescue falling 1.9% to $24.32. These declines were partly fueled by concerns over steel demand in China, exacerbated by extended losses in iron ore contracts traded on the Dalian exchange.

Similarly, energy producers such as Beach Energy, Woodside, and Santos faced downward pressure following OPEC+'s unexpected decision to accelerate production restoration, catching the market off-guard. Beach Energy saw a 2.4% retreat to $1.64, Woodside slid 1.8% to $27.43, and Santos fell 2.1% to $7.51.

Investor sentiment remained cautious ahead of key economic indicators, including Wednesday's gross domestic product (GDP) report, which analysts anticipated would reveal a 0.2% growth in the Australian economy for the first quarter and a 1.2% growth for the 12 months ending in March. Additionally, anticipation surrounded the European Central Bank's scheduled announcement of a potential rate cut, contributing to the prevailing uncertainty in the market.

Despite the overall market downturn, GrainCorp emerged as a significant outlier, surging by 4.8% to $8.87, following bullish crop forecasts released by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. The forecasted east coast winter crop for fiscal 2025 was projected to reach 27.1 million tonnes, well above the average of 20 million tonnes, prompting optimism among investors. Moreover, gold miners capitalized on rallying gold prices driven by expectations of a slowing U.S. economy, with Perseus Mining, De Grey, and Gold Resources registering gains.

Furthermore, notable movements were observed in other sectors, including technology and retail. Family-tracking app Life360 witnessed a 1.8% rally to $15.46 after announcing its initial public offering in the United States. Conversely, budget jewellery retailer Lovisa extended its losses, dropping by 2.2% to $29.74, following the replacement of its chief executive officer with John Cheston, the former boss of Smiggle.

Peter Milios

Peter Milios is a recent graduate from the University of Technology - majoring in Finance and Accounting. Peter is currently working under equity research analyst Di Brookman for Corporate Connect Research.

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