The ASX 200 closed in the red for the third time in four sessions on Thursday, but an afternoon rally saw it finish just 0.15% lower on the day.

As markets reassess the outlook for tighter monetary policy and ongoing COVID-19 disruptions, the ASX 200 Energy index continued its recent declines.

Resources stocks also lost ground, with sharper falls for the big gold stocks as ongoing strength in the US dollar keeps pressure on USD-denominated gold prices.

Reflecting the risk off tone, defensive utilities stocks outperformed the index with a sector gain of 1.5%. And after struggling for traction in recent weeks, the big banks found demand.

Conversely, tech stocks got belted as the ASX 200 Information Technology index stayed in its volatile downtrend with a 3.15% fall.


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Gains among the major lenders were led by Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA), which is off its post-COVID highs above $100 but climbed more than 2% today.

Elsewhere, a steady band of infrastructure and utilities stocks came back in favour, as investors moved into defensive names amid rising volatility.

Transurban (ASX:TCL) performed well, as did infrastructure construction company Fletcher Building (ASX:FBU) and utilities play AGL (ASX:AGL).


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On the other side of today’s ledger, the laggard was lithium darling Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR), which dipped by more than 15% after confirming the successful completion of its $450m share placement to bring its Kathleen Valley lithium mine in WA into production.

Also falling today was uranium large cap Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN), which gave a presentation on its global uranium production plans at the Macquarie Western Australia Forum.

Another lithium darling, Vulcan Energy (ASX:VUL), fell sharply and is trading in a range around 30% lower than its all-time highs before the J Capital short report.

Elsewhere, BNPL leader Afterpay (ASX:APT) was a notable laggard after flagging a delay from the Bank of Spain regarding regulatory approval for its takeover by Square. With a fall of 6.1%, APT shares closed at $100 on the button.