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Australian Market Sharply Lower

The Australian stock market is sharply lower on Monday, after the slight gains of the previous session, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 falling below the 7,300 level from all-time highs, following the broadly negative from Wall Street on Friday as investors remain spooked after the US central bank said it might raise interest rates sooner than previously expected.

Investors also await local retail sales data and China's PBoC interest rate decision later in the day.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index is losing 132.40 points or 1.80 percent to 7,236.50, after hitting a low of 7,235.60 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is down 134.80 points or 1.77 percent to 7,489.50. Australian stocks closed slightly higher on Friday.

Among the major miners, BHP Group is losing more than 1 percent, while Rio Tinto and OZ Minerals are down almost 2 percent each. Fortescue Metals is lower by almost 1 percent and Mineral Resources is losing more than 4 percent.

Oil stocks are weak, with Oil Search, Woodside Petroleum and Beach energy are losing almost 2 percent each, while Santos is down more than 1 percent and Origin Energy is declining almost 3 percent.

Among tech stocks, Afterpay is gaining more than 1 percent, while WiseTech Global and Xero are losing more than 1 percent each. Appen is edging down 0.4 percent.

Gold miners are weak after gold prices tumbled. Evolution Mining is losing almost 1 percent, while Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources are declining more than 1 percent each. Gold Road Resources is lower by more than 2 percent and Resolute Mining is down almost 3 percent.

Among the big four banks, ANZ Banking, National Australia Bank and Westpac are losing more than 2 percent each. Commonwealth Bank is down almost 4 percent after it announced the sale of its home and motor insurance business to the privately-owned Hollard Group for $625 million.

The Bank of Queensland has been given the final approval from the federal Treasurer to fully acquire boutique lender Me Bank for $1.3 billion from its industry super fund owners. The stock is down almost 3 percent.

Shares in Starpharma are plunging almost 10 percent after the biotech was forced to pause sales of its coronavirus nasal spray in the UK market as the regulator flagged the promotional claims it has made, including references to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19?. The product has been sold through UK pharmacy Lloyds, as well as online.

Building materials giant Boral is set to offload its struggling North American building products business for US$2.15 billion or A$2.9 billion, continuing its withdrawal from the US. The stock is up more than 2 percent.

In economic news, Australia is set to release its May figures for retail sales later on Monday.

In the currency market, the Aussie dollar is trading at $0.751 on Monday.

On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly lower during trading on Friday, following the mixed performance seen in the previous session. With the drop on the day, the Dow ended the session at its lowest closing level in over two months.

The major averages came under pressure going into the close, with the Dow and the S&P 500 hitting new lows for the session. The Dow tumbled 533.37 points or 1.6 percent to 33,290.08, the Nasdaq slid 130.97 points or 0.9 percent to 14,030.38 and the S&P 500 slumped 55.41 points or 1.3 percent to 4,166.45.

The major European markets all also moved sharply lower on the day. While French CAC 40 Index slumped 1.5 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index tumbled 1.8 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices moved higher on Friday amid optimism about energy demand in the U.S. thanks to reopening of businesses after lockdowns. West Texas Intermediate Crude oil futures for July rose $0.60 or 0.8 percent at $71.64 a barrel. WTI Crude oil futures gained 1 percent in the week.

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