Finance, ASX: Share market slips ahead of February inflation print

Australian shares lost ground on Tuesday, with the benchmark dragged lower by a sell-off in tech and resources stocks ahead of key inflation data locally and abroad.

At the closing bell, the benchmark index, the S&P/ASX200 sank 0.4 per cent, or 31.7 points, to 7780.2, while the broader All Ordinaries slipped a similar amount to 8036.7.

Local equities followed a similar pullback in shares on Wall Street. The Dow Jones led the losses, declining 0.4 per cent, while the S&P500 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq both fell 0.3 per cent.

The Australian dollar was flat to buy US65.40c against the greenback.

KCM Trade chief market analyst Tim Waterer said investors had taken profits ahead of fresh inflation data scheduled for release on Wednesday.

“If tomorrow’s CPI numbers show that inflation is pushing higher, it could raise some further questions about just how long we may have to wait to see that first rate cut arrive from the RBA,” Mr Waterer said.

Interest rate sensitive tech stocks were the worst performers, shedding 1.6 per cent.

Sector heavyweights retreated with Wisetech shares of 2.3 per cent to $94.29, Xero slid 2.7 per cent to $133.39, and NextDC sank 0.9 per cent to $17.81.

Also weighing on the benchmark was the materials sector, which fell 0.7 per cent, after the iron ore futures shed 3.3 per cent to $US104.95 a tonne on the Singapore Exchange for the April contract.

Miners for the key steel making ingredient edged lower. BHP slipped 0.6 per cent to $43.62, Rio Tinto eased 0.2 per cent and Fortescue fell 1.2 per cent to $25.20.

Bucking the trend was a rebound in the oil price.

Brent crude rallied to $US87 a barrel after OPEC+ officials said the cartels members would push ahead with a planned extension of supply cuts despite heightened geopolitical tensions.

Woodside added one per cent to $30.37 after the firm announced it had finalised the sale of a 10 per cent stake in its Scarborough gas project to Japan LNG.

In corporate news, shares in 29Metals plunged 25.9 per cent to 40c after it announced it was suspending operations at its Capricorn Copper operation located in Queensland.

The facility has been hit with tropical storms from late January through to mid-March.

Premier Investments added 4.4 per cent to $32, having hit an intraday high of $33.51 earlier in the session.

The retail conglomerate rose on plans for a proposed demerger of its Smiggle and Peter Alexander brands.

Biopharmaceutical company Mesoblast soared 45.5 per cent to 48c after the US Food and Drug Administration said there was enough clinical data for the firm to resubmit its application to treat pediatric patients with steroid-refractory acute graft versus host disease.

Seven Group shared slipped 4.1 per cent to $39.62 after it said it was “extremely disappointed” with “fundamental errors” in an independent review that recommended Boral shareholders should reject Seven’s buyout bid lobbed earlier this month.

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