US shares initially rallied on hints that the Fed is preparing to slow the pace of its aggressive tightening campaign, but reversed after Mr Powell warned that interest rates will reach a higher level than previously anticipated.
“Buy the rumour and sell the news might be the best phrase to describe the market’s moves,” said Tina Teng, markets analyst at CMC Markets.
Australia’s benchmark index suffered a broad decline, 10 of the 11 sharemarket sectors posted losses, led by a 3 per cent fall by materials stocks.
Iron ore futures in Singapore continued to hover around a two-year low at $US81 per tonne, placing further pressure on the major miners. BHP shed 3.2 per cent to $37.98, Rio Tinto dropped 2.2 per cent to $90.56 and Fortescue Metals Group lost 2.9 per cent to $15.28.
Gold miners were among the biggest laggards as the precious metal’s price was hit by a higher US dollar and bond yields; Silver Lake Resources dropped 6.4 per cent to $1.10 and St Barbara fell 6.9 per cent to 47.5¢.
Lendlease led the real estate sector lower after warning that return on invested capital for its investments and development arms, and its EBITDA margin, would be at the lower end of its guidance range. The stock dropped 8.7 per cent to $7.84.
Woolworths said that average food prices surged 7.3 per cent in the September quarter due to double-digit inflation in fresh fruit and vegetables.
The nation’s biggest supermarket reported group revenue of $16.4 billion in the period, lower than some analysts forecasts but ahead of the market at $16.3 billion. The stock dropped 3.5 per cent to $32.05.
Coles fell 1 per cent to $16.14 and Metcash tumbled 1.5 per cent to $3.98.
Domino’s extended its day-earlier decline when it warned earnings will be “materially lower” in the first half as it battles inflationary headwinds.
Citi downgraded its rating on Domino’s to “neutral”, and UBS cut its price target to $80, from $85. The stock dropped 11.7 per cent to $52.98 on Thursday.
Shares in a2 Milk jumped 4.2 per cent to $5.49 after it was granted temporary access to sell its a2 Platinum infant formula in the United States as the country continues to face a significant shortage of baby formula.
Coal miner New Hope Corporation firmed 5.9 per cent to $6.09 after its board approved an on-market share buyback worth up to $300 million which will begin around November 17 and be completed within 12 months.
Downer EDI reiterated its guidance for 10 to 20 per cent growth in full-year net profit after tax and amortisation. The stock jumped 5.3 per cent to $4.81.
Software platform Bravura delivered a huge downgrade on Wednesday night, warning investors that its earnings for the 2023 financial year will “differ materially” from consensus forecasts. Shares in the company cratered 52.1 per cent to 63¢.
Westpac independent non-executive director Peter Marriott will retire from the bank’s board after its annual general meeting. Audette Exel will replace Mr Marriott as chair of the board risk committee.
Shares in Westpac dropped 2.4 per cent to $23.91, while Commonwealth Bank fell 1.4 per cent to $104.50, ANZ declined 1.2 per cent to $25.68 and National Australia Bank tumbled 1.8 per cent to $32.15.