June 17 (Reuters) - Australian shares fell on Thursday, as
gold stocks and miners slumped on weaker commodity prices, with
the mood largely negative as U.S. equities dipped overnight
after Federal Reserve officials projected hikes in interest
rates by 2023.
The benchmark ASX 200 index was down 0.5% at
7,351.50 points, as of 0028 GMT.
Wall Street's main indexes closed overnight session lower as
the U.S. central bank indicated that it could begin raising
interest rates a year earlier than expected, which caused a
sell-off of U.S. Treasuries and boosted the dollar.
In other markets, Japan's Nikkei also declined 1% at
28,990.9, while the S&P 500 E-minis futures were down
Among sectors, the gold index fell the most,
slipping 2.7% to hit its lowest level in nearly six weeks, as
prices slid over projections of the Fed's rate hikes.
Miners declined 2.3% as iron ore futures fell on
increasing supply, with index majors Rio Tinto and BHP
Group dropping 0.7% each.
The Australian energy index also retreated, despite
oil prices hitting multi-year highs.
The sub-index shed about 2%, with Whitehaven Coal
being top loser after the coal producer cut its 2021 coal output
forecast due to downtime at Narrabri mine in New South Wales.
Bucking the trend, financials rose 0.6%, with all of
the "Big Four" banks trading in positive territory.
On the data front, Australia's minimum wage is expected to
rise at a faster pace than this year, reflecting its strong
economic recovery from the pandemic-induced recession.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index dipped 0.2% to
12,550.9 points on prospects of tighter monetary policy
conditions as the country posted a faster-than-expected
first-quarter economic growth data.
(Reporting by Yamini C S in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry