Australian shares ended at their lowest level since late January on Wednesday, as higher-than-expected U.S. inflation hurt hopes of early rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.7% lower at 7,547.7 points. The benchmark had slipped 0.2% on Tuesday.

Wall Street's major indexes slumped on Tuesday after a higher-than-expected consumer inflation data dampened hopes of early interest rate cuts.

All the sub-indexes in the Australian bourse closed in the red.

Investors keenly awaited the employment data, due on Thursday, for cues on the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) monetary policy moves.

"The RBA will be hoping to see some softness in the Australian employment data tomorrow, given that a tight labour market remains a source of inflationary pressure," Tim Waterer, chief market analyst at KCM Trade, said.

"However if we happen to see strong jobs figures that could delay any RBA rate cuts."

Financial stocks closed 1.2% lower, posting their worst day since Feb. 1.

The country's largest financial, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, reported a drop in half-yearly profit, with shares falling 1.7%, marking their worst day since Feb. 1.

Mining stocks fell 1.1% and gold stocks closed down 2.8%.

ASX-listed shares of Fletcher Building fell 8.7%, clocking their worst day since mid-October 2023 after the company posted a first-half loss after tax of NZ$120 million ($72.86 million) compared with a profit of NZ$92 million in the previous year. The construction firm was among the top laggards on the benchmark.

Asset manager AMP rose 10.3%, marking its biggest gain since late-April 2022, after posting a 6.5% rise in its fiscal 2023 underlying profit. The wealth manager was among the top gainers of the day.

New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index finished 0.7% lower at 11,661.32. ($1 = 1.5480 Australian dollars) ($1 = 1.6469 New Zealand dollars) (Reporting by Sherin Sunny in Bengaluru; Editing by Mrigank Dhaniwala)