ASX drops, tech plunges on rate fears
Australia's share market has started the day lower but has been faring better than the whopping losses handed out on Wall Street overnight.
The ASX was down 0.76 per cent on Wednesday after soaring bond yields in the US helped decimate markets there.
ASX technology stocks fared worst and were down more than two per cent after the Nasdaq took a similar beating.
Networking provider Megaport plunged 12.47 per cent to $15.99 after investors were unconvinced by its December quarter performance.
Electric car battery producer Novonix tumbled 8.81 per cent to $9.31.
Energy shares were best and were higher by about one per cent.
Oil prices rose on worries about political tension between producers the United Arab Emirates and Russia.
Health care and financials were the other shares struggling most. Each lost a little more than one per cent.
The selling comes after US Treasury yields jumped to two-year highs overnight as traders prepare for the Federal Reserve to raise rates.
The US central bank wants to slow inflation and has a meeting next week. However most expect the first rate rises in March.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 56.9 points, or 0.76 per cent, to 7351.9 points at 1200 AEDT.
The All Ordinaries index was lower by 59 points, or 0.76 per cent, to 7676.8 points.
The monthly Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index eased just two per cent in January despite the latest coronavirus outbreak disrupting the economy.
Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said it was a surprisingly solid result.
In company news, BHP improved iron ore exports in the December quarter but warned of coronavirus challenges once Western Australia relaxes rules on visitors from February 5.
The miners exported 73.2 million tonnes of iron ore in the quarter, more than the 70.7 million tonnes in the same period the year prior.
BHP was down 0.27 per cent to $46.57.
Among chief iron ore rivals, Fortescue fell almost two per cent to $20.35. Rio Tinto was better by 0.40 per cent to $110.09.
Financial shares had a poor lead from the US where Goldman Sachs missed quarterly profit expectations.
Australia's biggest bank shares were all lower. The Commonwealth fared worst of the big four and shed 1.45 per cent to $99.32. Bendigo Bank lost about two per cent to $9.14.
Afterpay shares were trading for a final day on the ASX before the company merges with US payments giant Block. Afterpay was down 1.16 per cent to $67.16.
Elsewhere, CIMIC group won a NSW government tunnelling contract as part of a joint venture.
CIMIC subsidiary CPB Contractors and John Holland will dig the Western Harbour Tunnel in Sydney.
CPB will reap about $350 million in revenue.
CIMIC was down 0.86 per cent to $17.17.
The Australian dollar was buying 71.87 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 71.91 US cents at Tuesday's close.