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 0.6%.
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 Jacob-Phillips)