A bell hangs above an ASX logo.

ASX closes financial year sharply lower, AGL discovers Brookfield buy-in

The Australian stock market ended the fiscal year sharply lower after a mixed day on Wall Street and amid investor concerns about rising interest rates, inflation and the threat of a recession.

The ASX 200 fell nearly 2 percent to 6,568.

The All Ordinaries also lost just over 1.9 percent to 6,746.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar rose 0.1 percent to 68.89 cents.

Healthcare was the only sector to close in the green.

Utilities, mining and energy were the worst performing sectors.

Pointsbet was the best performing stock, rising 12.8 percent.

Graincorp, Domino’s, Iluka Resources and James Hardie rounded out the top five stocks.

The main declines were Tyro Payments (-6.1 percent), Unibail-Rodamco Westfield (-5.3 percent), Liontown Resources (-5.3 percent), Janus Henderson Group (-5.2 percent) and Regis Resources ( -5.1 percent). †

Vacancies reached almost half a million

The number of job openings in May rose to 480,000, more than double the number in February 2020 and 58,000 more than in February 2022, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

“The number of vacancies has increased by 14 percent in the three months to May 2022 to almost half a million jobs,” said Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labor Statistics at the ABS.

“This reflected increasing demand for employees, particularly in customer-facing roles, with companies continuing to face disruptions to their operations, as well as persistent labor shortages.”

The percentage of companies reporting at least one vacancy has also increased.

“A quarter of companies reported having at least one vacancy in May 2022,” said Mr Jarvis.

“This percentage was more than double the pre-pandemic level in February 2020 (11 percent), reflecting the extent to which companies are finding it more difficult to recruit staff.”

“The large growth in job vacancies due to the pandemic has coincided with a decline in the number of unemployed.

“As a result, in May 2022 there were almost the same number of unemployed and job vacancies (1.1 unemployed per job vacant), compared to three times as many people before the start of the pandemic (3.1).

The largest increase in job vacancies was in Victoria (18 percent up on the three months to May), followed by a 12 percent increase in New South Wales.

Retail had the highest quarterly growth in job openings at 38 percent, followed by information media and telecommunications services (18 percent) and arts and recreation services (16 percent).

Brookfield buy-in to AGL

Canadian investment manager Brookfield has acquired a 2.6 percent stake in AGL Energy through a subsidiary.

The company Australia 123456789 4 Pty Limited made the switch on June 24, AGL said.

AGL said it was becoming aware of the link between routine registry analysis.

Brookfield would not comment further when the ABC contacts him.

The Canadian company made two takeover bids from AGL with tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes’ Grok Ventures.

Mr. Cannon-Brookes is AGL’s largest shareholder.

Grok and Brookfield are no longer involved.

AGL shares closed 1.3 percent lower.

Mixed Day on Wall Street

In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 82.32 points, or 0.2 percent, to 31,029, while the other benchmarks closed slightly in the red.

The S&P 500 fell to 3,818 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite also entered the red at 11,177.

It was the worst first half for the Wall Street benchmark index since President Richard Nixon’s first term, according to Reuters.

“The market is struggling to find direction,” said Megan Horneman, chief investment officer at Verdence Capital Advisors.

“We had disappointing data and the markets are waiting for the earnings season when we will have more clarity about future earnings and an economic slowdown,” she said.

Market leaders Apple, Microsoft and Amazon.com provided the upside, while economically sensitive chips, small caps and transportation underperformed the broader market.

With the end of the month and the second quarter in one day, the S&P 500 has set course for its biggest first-half percentage drop since 1970.

The Nasdaq was heading for its worst-ever first-half performance, while the Dow looked on track for its biggest January-June percentage drop since the financial crisis.

All three indices would post their second quarter in a row. The last time that happened was in 2015.

“We have a central bank that has had to switch from a decades-old easy money policy to a tightening cycle,” said Ms Horneman.

“This is new for many investors.”

“We’re seeing a price revision for what we expect going forward in a very different interest rate environment.”

Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500, five lost ground on the day, with energy stocks taking the largest percentage drop. Healthcare led the winners.

Treasury yields have risen by more than 1.6 percentage points so far in 2022, the biggest jump in the first half since 1984.

That explains why interest-rate sensitive growth stocks have fallen more than 26 percent so far.

Investors are also looking to hike interest rates to curb inflation, while US GDP data showed the economy contracted slightly more than expected, at 1.6 percent.

It comes after this week’s consumer confidence data showed consumer expectations had fallen to their lowest level since March 2013.

Packaged food company General Mills rose 6.3 percent after sales exceeded estimates.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc plunged 23.6 percent after the retailer announced it had replaced chief executive officer Mark Tritton, hoping to reverse a slump.

Parcel delivery company FedEx Corp fell 2.6 percent in the wake of the disappointing margin forecast for its ground unit.

In Europe, the pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.7 percent, the German DAX 1.7 percent and the British FTSE 0.1 percent.

The price of iron ore futures fell 17 cents, or 0.1 percent, to $130.11 a tonne.

Spot gold has just slipped into the red and has sold for $1,816.10.

In oil markets, Brent crude fell 0.2 percent to $116.10 a barrel, while West Texas crude rose 0.1 percent to $109.92 a barrel.

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