The ASX pulls back from its record high, with healthcare stocks exerting downward pressure on the index.

By midday, the Australian sharemarket retreated from earlier gains as miners and tech stocks propelled the local bourse to a record high on Friday, following a positive lead from Wall Street overnight.

The S&P/ASX 200 dipped 0.9 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 7697.8 around 12.30pm AEDT, with five out of the 11 sectors trading in the red. Miners saw a rise of 0.8 per cent, led by gold and lithium companies, with Newmont up 4.4 per cent and Pilbara Minerals up 2.6 per cent. Heavyweights like Fortescue and BHP also contributed to the sector’s lift, with NAB chief executive Ross McEwan set to join BHP’s board on April 3 following his departure from the bank.

IT stocks surged 1.4 per cent, with Xero gaining 4.2 per cent and Altium climbing 0.8 per cent. Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths each gained 1.1 per cent, boosting the consumer staples sector by 0.5 per cent.

However, healthcare stocks declined by 1.7 per cent, with Cochlear sliding 3.8 per cent, Sonic Healthcare losing 2.9 per cent, and Ramsay falling 1.7 per cent. Ampol was the largest large-cap decliner, down 5.3 per cent, as it went ex-dividend on Friday.

In the US, stocks reached new all-time highs as Wall Street closed its latest winning month. The S&P 500 rose 0.5 per cent, the Nasdaq composite surged 0.9 per cent, and the Dow Jones finished just below its record set last week, rising 0.1 per cent.

Yields in the bond market eased after a closely followed inflation report showed prices rose as expected last month, calming worries of a reacceleration. Brian Jacobsen, chief economist at Annex Wealth Management, remarked, “While inflation was hotter than it’s been in a while, it may be more of a flash in the pan than the start of something worse.”

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