The S&P/ASX 200 closed 1% lower. Sony's share price is down more than 10% after rival Microsoft announced it would buy gaming company Activision in a $US68.7 billion all-cash deal. US futures are in decline, indicating losses at the open of markets there.
On the ASX, shares in Lynas Rare Earths fell 0.7% after the company surpassed $200 million in sales for the December quarter, setting a new record despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
BHP shares were down 0.4% after the mining giant flagged a billion dollar hit to its February half-year financial results from impairments and fresh payments over the Samarco tailings disaster, despite announcing bumper iron ore shipments. The mining giant shipped 73.2 million tonnes of iron ore from its Pilbara mines in the December period, up from 70.8 million tonnes in the same period in 2020, and exported 144 million tonnes in the first half of the financial year.
The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment fell by 2.0% to 102.2 in January from 104.3 in December. “This is a surprisingly solid result given the rapid spread of the omicron COVID variant over the last month. The 2% decline compares to the 5.2% drop seen in the first month of the delta outbreak in NSW, a 6.1% drop heading into Victoria’s ‘second wave’ outbreak in 2020 and the epic 17.7% collapse when the pandemic first hit in early 2020,” Westpac’s chief economist Bill Evans said in a statement. Westpac’s data comes after ANZ posted its largest fall since 1992 in that bank’s consumer confidence survey.
Wall Street stocks fell amid a surge in US Treasury yields on expectations the Federal Reserve will have to unveil several interest rate hikes to tackle a worrying spike in inflation. The Dow tumbled 1.5 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 1.8 per cent and the Nasdaq fell 2.6 per cent.
Oil prices are trading at the highest levels in more than seven years, in part on hopes of a global economic recovery ramping up demand. WTI hit $US87.04 a barrel, the highest since September 2014. Brent crude oil reached $US88.70 a barrel.
Bitcoin is below $US42,000 again and gold has dropped slightly through the afternoon.
The Aussie dollar is steady against the greenback.
Gold $US1812.95 an ounce
Brent crude oil $US88.38 a barrel
WTI crude oil $US86.31 a barrel