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US stocks have ended slightly lower, with major indexes giving up gains in choppy trade after the Federal Reserve raised US interest rates, while a strong gain in the energy space helped limit losses.MORE >
The Australian share market has closed lower after the US central bank lifted interest rates and forecast further hikes in the years ahead.
Thursday, 22nd March, 2018
The ASX200 index was down 0.2 percent at 5,937.2 points, as gains among energy and materials stocks were offset by weakness in all other sectors.
The US Federal Reserve has lifted its benchmark overnight lending rate by a quarter of a percentage point, and forecast at least two more hikes for 2018. Stronger base metals prices lifted the local miners, with BHP Billiton up 2.7 percent to $29.70, Rio Tinto adding 2.1 percent to $76.78 and Fortescue Metals gaining 0.6 percent to $4.79. Oil prices are close to six-week highs, boosted by declines in US inventories, concerns over the nuclear pact with Iran and strong compliance on OPEC production cuts.
Woodside Petroleum lifted 2.2 percent to $29.44, Santos gained 1.2 percent to $5.13 and Oil Search was 0.4 percent higher at $7.23.
The major banks were a weight on the market, with Commonwealth Bank shedding 1.2 percent to $74.87, Westpac losing 0.7 percent $29.60, ANZ dropping 0.4 percent to $28.18 and National Australia Bank was 0.3 percent weaker at $29.60.
Sigma Healthcare dropped 7.4 percent to 81.5 cents after its full-year underlying profit fell 11 percent, partly on falling demand for Hepatitis C medication.
The Australian dollar has hit its highest levels for the week, with the US dollar slipping after the Federal Reserve did not signal a faster pace of rate hikes for this year. The local currency was trading at 77.50 US cents, up from 76.96 US cents on Wednesday.
|Equities / Fixed Interest||Close||Change||% Change|
|Currency||Close||Pts Change||% Change|
|$A vs $US||0.7745||-0.0029||-0.37|
|$A vs GBP||0.5475||
|$A vs EUR||0.6272||-0.0024||-0.38|
|$A vs YEN||81.99||-0.35||-0.43|
|$A vs $NZ||