Healthcare drops amid Covid-19 surge, PointsBet falls: ASX closes 0.1% lower

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

The Australian sharemarket fell in the afternoon session after spending most of the day in the green. Most sectors weakened with healthcare leading the fall, while materials touched 0.6 per cent higher as the best performer.

The healthcare sector weighed in the afternoon session led by protective equipment brand Ansell (ASX:ANN) down 2.3 per cent, Pro Medicus (ASX:PME) down 2.1 per cent, Clinical Pharmaceuticals (ASX:CUV) down 1.9 per cent and CSL (ASX:CSL) closing 1.5 per cent lower. 

Lithium miners kept in front with Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR) closing 6.3 per cent higher. Meanwhile heavyweight miners were mixed after Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) fell 0.4 per cent, BHP (ASX:BHP) added 1.2 per cent and Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) closed 0.1 per cent lower.

It was a big day for consumer discretionary stocks after two companies broke news with very different reactions. JB Hi-Fi (ASX:JBH) jumped out of the blocks to close 6.9 per cent higher to $49.85 after reporting on its half-year results, which outlined a boost in online sales despite profits expected to fall. On the other hand, Redbubble (ASX:RBL) tumbled 21.7 per cent to $2.34 after flagging to investors that revenue growth is expected to be lower.

Across the consumer sector, PointsBet (ASX:PBH) led the fall after dropping 3.5 per cent as the worst performing stock, while travel stocks also weakened with Corporate Travel Management (ASX:CTD) down 1.5 per cent and Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) closing 0.8 per cent lower. 

NSW reported 29,830 new Covid-19 cases on its deadliest day of the pandemic so far, while Victoria recorded 20,180 after the government declared a Code Brown emergency as the Covid-19 wave takes its toll. Queensland reported 15,962 new cases.

Energy stocks were mixed as Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) closed 0.2 per cent lower and Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) closed 0.3 per cent lower, while Santos (ASX:STO) touched 0.1 per cent higher.

Onto gold stocks, Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) fell 0.8 per cent, Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) was down 0.3 per cent and Northern Star (ASX:NST) closed 0.2 per cent lower,

Major banks fell led by Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) and Macquarie (ASX:MQG) both down 0.4 per cent. Westpac (ASX:WBC) fell 0.3 per cent, while National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) and ANZ Bank (ASX:ANZ) both closed 0.1 per cent lower.

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.1 per cent or 9 points lower at 7,409.

Local economic news

ANZ and Roy Morgan released their weekly consumer confidence figures. Consumer confidence decreased during the second week of January, down 8.1 points to 97.9 and is now at its lowest since October 2020 during Victoria’s second wave of Covid-19. In addition, consumer confidence is now 10.8 points below the same week a year ago, January 16/17, 2021 (108.7).

The statement said the fall is likely related to several factors including the surging ‘Omicron variant’ of Covid-19 which has also led to shortages in PCR tests, Rapid Antigen tests, vaccine dose availability for children aged 5-11 (which began last week), and supply chain issues with shortages of key goods in supermarkets and other retailers.

Consumer confidence this week was down in all States, except in South Australia and is now below the neutral level of 100 in all states.

Company news

Ampol’s (ASX:ALD) Lytton Refinery experienced improved refiner margins in the final quarter of 2021 as supply and demand fundamentals improved. Shares closed 2.4 per cent higher at $31.27.

BHP (ASX:BHP) has selected Cimic’s (ASX:CIM) CPB Contractors to deliver work at the port de-bottlenecking project in Western Australia. Cimic shares closed 0.3 per cent lower at $17.32. 

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a fall of 78 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a fall of 22 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a fall of 150 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 12 points when the market next opens.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Materials, up 0.6 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Health Care, down 1.2 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Imugene (ASX:IMU), closing 7 per cent higher at $0.38. It was followed by shares in JB Hi-Fi (ASX:JBH) and Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was PointsBet Holdings (ASX:PBH), closing 3.7 per cent lower at $6.07. It was followed by shares in Virgin Money UK (ASX:VUK) and Zip Co (ASX:Z1P).

Asian markets

Japan's Nikkei has lost 0.5 per cent.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng has lost 0.2 per cent.
China's Shanghai Composite has gained 0.9 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1817.82 an ounce.
Iron ore is 2.2 per cent lower at US$124.00 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.4 per cent.
Light crude is trading $0.58 higher at US$84.33 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.90 US cents.
 

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