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ASX 200 (ASX:XJO) share price hits three-month high on falling inflation, Austal sinks on downgrade

The local share market managed a 0.9% gain on Tuesday, taking it to a five-month high on the back of another confirmation of falling price levels and inflation. The materials sector was the standout, prior to Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO) delivering a strong quarterly update, gaining 1.8%, while financials also added 1.1%.

The best-performing stock on the day was Beach Energy Ltd (ASX: BPT) which gained 6.9% while both Rea Group Ltd (ASX: REA) and Wisetech Group Ltd (ASX: WTC) managed to mark new highs after adding 2.5% and 0.6%, respectively. Shares in Rio Tinto finished 1.4% higher, ahead of the company delivering a 34% drop in profit due to weaker commodity prices and a near $800 million writedown on its alumina refineries.

Shipmaker Ausnet Services Ltd (ASX: AST) shares were also sold off, falling 10.5% after the company warned that increasing costs on a US Navy project could see it switch from a $58 million profit to a $10 million loss.

Kogan gains despite falling sales, Corporate Travel updates earnings

Inflation data continues to point towards a pause in interest rate hikes, with the latest results showing price rises had slowed to 6% in June from 7% in March, weaker than the 6.2% expected by the RBA. The main contributors remain overseas travel and restaurant spending. This offered hope to online retailer Ltd (ASX: KGN) as shares gained 10% despite the group reporting a 22% fall in profits in the second half, as consumers began to slow spending.

Earnings are now expected to be just $3 million in the second half, but on the positive side, inventory has fallen by close to 60%. Corporate Travel Management Ltd (ASX: CTD) also added 0.9% as the company updated expectations for earnings of between $165 and $170 million on the back of strong business and leisure spending.

Dow hits 13-day record; Microsoft, Alphabet head in different directions

The Federal Reserve raised rates again overnight, with another 25 basis point increase, taking the cash rate to 5.25% to 5.5%. Despite this, Dow Jones managed to push towards a 13th straight day of gains, after a strong result from Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) which gained close to 6%.

The company reported a near 10% increase in both profit and revenue, which reached US $74.6 billion for the quarter, with cloud sales jumping close to 30% on the back of the AI boom. Management noted a strong recovery in advertising sales, albeit not quite at the prior historical highs.

It was the opposite story for Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ: MSFT) which lost close to 4% after, despite the company reporting another strong quarter in both cloud storage and Azure. The former saw 15% growth and the latter 26% as the business continues to benefit from its investment in AI group OpenAI, owner of Chat GPT.

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Wattle Partners is a financial advice firm, servicing clients around Australia, specialising in retirement planning (pre and post retirement). 

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