More than $60bn has been wiped off the Australian share market after huge losses in the US and there are fears the sell-off could herald more interest rate pain.
The US federal reserve is expected to continue jacking up the cash rate as Wall Street suffered its biggest hit in two years.
Swinburne University senior finance lecturer Mardy Chiah said the potential for further rate hikes in the US pointed to more bad news for Australia, with a key US figure on consumer prices jumping much more than expected.
“This shows that inflation remains a difficult beast to tame and points to further interest hikes in Australia as well,” he said.
“We can no longer be certain of those expectations that the cash rate will hit a ceiling of 3% by next year.”
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 dropped 184 points in the first 10 minutes of trading on Wednesday and more or less treaded water since. It eventually closed down 181.1 points, or 2.58%, to a one-week low of 2828.6.
The broader All Ordinaries finished down 181.9 points, or 2.51%, to 7071.8.
The latest monthly employment figures will be released on Thursday.
Ahead of their release, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released new research showing Australians were picking up side hustles in record numbers, with about 900,000 people working more than one job.
This means 6.5% of the working population held multiple jobs.
“This is the highest rate since the quarterly series commenced in 1994, and about 0.5 percentage points above its pre-pandemic level,” ABS head of labour statistics Lauren Ford said.
Australian Council of Trade Unions head Sally McManus said people had no other choice but to work multiple jobs to cover their bills.
Household budgets have taken a hit from rising living expenses, with headline inflation reaching 6.1% in the June quarter.
NAB economist Alan Oster said higher interest rates would eventually start to eat into disposable income and force households to rein in spending.
However, while rising interest rates might be hurting mortgage holders, it also means savers are finally getting decent deals.
When the Reserve Bank of Australia first started hiking interest rates in May, banks were typically quick to pass on higher interest rates to mortgage holders but more reluctant to do the same for savers.
But RateCity research director Sally Tindall said some banks were now actively chasing savers.
With mortgage funding costs growing due to the rising official cash rate, she said deposits from savers were becoming an increasingly important part of the funding mix.
“The good news is savers are back to being a sought-after commodity after years of lousy returns, but they’ll still need to shop around if they want to get the best deals,” she said.
All of the big four banks lifted rates by the full 0.5 percentage points for variable mortgage customers following the September cash rate decision, but National Australia Bank and ANZ are yet to announce higher interest rates across any of their savings accounts.
Commonwealth Bank and Westpac have so far passed on a higher interest rate to some savings accounts but not others.