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ASX down, AGL up thanks to Brookfield joining, vacancies hit nearly half a million

The Australian stock market is trading lower on the final day of the financial year, after a mixed day on Wall Street and amid investor concerns over rising interest rates, inflation and the threat of a recession .

The ASX 200 was down 0.8% at 6,644 at 12:45 a.m. AEST.

The All Ordinaries were also down just over 0.8% to 6,817.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar rose nearly a quarter percent to 68.97 US cents.

Energy, banking and mining were the worst performing sectors in the index of the top 200 companies.

Health care and telecommunications led the gains.

Pointsbet was the best performing stock, up 11.1%.

Megaport, Carsales.com, Oz Minerals and Oz Minerals round out the top five stocks on the ASX 200.

The main declines were Janus Henderson Group, Unibail-Rodamco Westfield, Abacus Property Group, Event Hospitality.

After a positive start to the session, Tyro Payments lost 3%.

Job postings reached nearly half a million

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

“The number of job vacancies increased by 14% in the three months to May 2022, to almost half a million jobs,” said Bjorn Jarvis, head of labor statistics at ABS.

“This reflects the growing demand for workers, particularly in customer-facing roles, as businesses continue to face disruptions to their operations, as well as ongoing labor shortages.”

The percentage of companies declaring at least one vacant position has also increased.

“A quarter of businesses reported having at least one vacant position in May 2022,” Mr Jarvis said.

“This rate was more than double the pre-pandemic level in February 2020 (11%), which shows how much harder it is for businesses to find staff.”

“The strong growth in vacancies during the pandemic has coincided with a drop in the number of unemployed.

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

The strongest growth in job vacancies occurred in Victoria (up 18% in the three months to May), followed by a 12% rise in New South Wales.

Retail saw the strongest quarterly job vacancy growth at 38%, followed by news media and telecommunications services (18%) and arts and entertainment services (16%).

Acquisition of Brookfield from AGL

Canadian investment manager Brookfield bought a 2.6% stake in AGL Energy through a subsidiary.

Australia 123456789 4 Pty Limited made the move on June 24, according to AGL.

AGL said it realized the link between routine registry scanning.

Brookfield had no further comment when contacted by the ABC.

The Canadian company has arranged two takeover bids for 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 were up 0.3% at lunchtime.

Mixed day on Wall Street

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

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

It was the worst first half for Wall Street’s benchmark 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’ve had some disappointing data, and the markets are waiting for earnings season, when we’ll have more clarity around future earnings and an economic downturn,” she said.

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

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

The Nasdaq was on course for its worst performance in the first half, while the Dow Jones appeared on course for its biggest January-June percentage decline since the financial crisis.

All three indexes were expected to post their second consecutive quarterly declines. The last time this happened was in 2015.

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

“It’s new for a lot of investors.”

“We are seeing price revision for what we expect to be a very different interest rate environment going forward.”

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, five lost ground on the day, with energy stocks suffering the largest percentage decline. Health led the winners.

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

This explains why interest-rate-sensitive growth stocks have plunged more than 26% since the start of the year.

Investors are also eyeing rate hikes to curb inflation, while US GDP data showed the economy contracted slightly more than expected at 1.6%.

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

Packaged food company General Mills jumped 6.3% after sales beat estimates.

Bed Bath & Beyond Inc fell 23.6% following the retailer’s announcement that it had replaced CEO Mark Tritton, hoping to reverse a crisis.

Parcel carrier FedEx Corp fell 2.6% following its disappointing margin forecast for its ground unit.

In Europe, the pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.7%, Germany’s DAX fell 1.7% and Britain’s FTSE lost 0.1%.

Iron ore futures fell 17 cents or 0.1% to US$130.11 a tonne.

Spot gold just slipped into the red, selling for US$1,820.20.

In oil markets, Brent crude rose 2.3% to US$115.20 a barrel, while West Texas crude rose 2% to US$109.53 a barrel.

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