Australian shares closed little changed in range-bound trade on Monday as investors stayed on the fence ahead of local inflation data and the U.S. central bank's policy decision this week.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.02% lower at 6,789.90.

"The sentiment is weak and uncertain. The turnover is very low so far and this indicates that even global traders are waiting for U.S. to set the market sentiment for the week," said Mathan Somasundaram, CEO of Deep Data Analytics.

The U.S. Federal Reserve's two-day policy meeting will conclude on Wednesday and markets are anticipating a 75 basis points (bps) rate hike.

Meanwhile, Australia's second-quarter consumer price data — due on Wednesday — is also on investors' radar. Economists polled by Reuters see year-on-year headline inflation hitting 6.2%, the highest since 1990.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has already raised rates for three months in a row and governor, Philip Lowe, reiterated his view last week that further hikes would be necessary to keep inflation in check.

The domestic technology sub-index shed 1.5% to become the top percentage loser after major Wall Street indexes closed lower on Friday.

EML Payments plunged 22.2%, while Australia-listed shares of Block Inc fell 2.1%.

Energy stocks fell 0.8% as oil extended losses on concerns of weak demand.

Miners climbed 1.2% following a rally in iron ore prices.

Diversified miner South32 Ltd rose 0.9% after posting a 3% rise in its fourth-quarter metallurgical coal output, while also joining global miners BHP Group and Rio Tinto to flag labour shortages.

BHP and Rio Tinto climbed 1.6% and 0.9%, respectively.

Gold stocks advanced 1.3% as bullion steadied after logging early losses.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended 0.6% lower at 11,198.68. (Reporting by Himanshi Akhand in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)


Reuters