Tech leads, Telstra CEO to retire: ASX up 0.7% at noon

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

The Aussie sharemarket has advanced this morning following Wall St’s lead amid rising signs of progress in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. Most sectors are in positive territory across the local bourse following the release of the Federal Budget last night.

Tech jumps, energy & materials drag

Technology is soaring in front, while materials and energy are the only sectors in the red. In the winner’s corner are real estate, healthcare and industrials.

The best performer Life360 (ASX:360) is leading the tech sector, up 1.8 per cent to $5.84, followed by Afterpay owner Block (ASX:SQ2) up 6.8 per cent to $195.89.

Major banks are higher, led by Macquarie (ASX:MQG) up 1.7 per cent to $206.34. NAB (ASX:NAB) is up 0.9 per cent to $32.39, Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) has risen 0.8 per cent to $107.22, Westpac (ASX:WBC) has added 0.8 per cent to $24.49 and ANZ (ASX:ANZ) is trading 0.3 per cent higher at $27.95.

Energy stocks are lower, led by Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) down 1.4 per cent to $1.58. Santos (ASX:STO) has fallen 0.4 per cent to $7.88 and Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) is trading 0.3 per cent lower at $32.70.

Heavyweight miners are mixed. Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) is up 0.9 per cent to $19.66 following a media clarification released today regarding Fortescue Future Industries signing a memorandum of understanding with E.ON. However, BHP (ASX:BHP) is down 0.5 per cent to $50.35 and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is trading 0.2 per cent lower at $116.60.

Gold stocks are also mixed. Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) is up 0.4 per cent to $26.97, while Northern Star (ASX:NST) is down 0.4 per cent to $10.75 and Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) is down 0.2 per cent to $4.40.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.7 per cent or 51.8 points higher at 7516.1.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 45 points.

Stocks we are watching

The federal government pledged $60 million to bring back international visitors. Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) is trading 1.1 per cent higher at $20.13 and Corporate Travel (ASX:CTD) is trading 1.3 per cent higher at $24.17.

Amid the government’s commitment to help couples with pregnancy, Healius (ASX:HLS) is trading 0.9 per cent higher at $4.44 and Virtus Health (ASX:VRT) is trading 0.5 per cent lower at $8.06.

Vicky Brady is named as CEO for Telstra (ASX:TLS), replacing Andrew Penn who served in the role for more than seven years. Shares are trading 0.3 per cent lower at $3.92.

JP Morgan cut Uniti Group (ASX:UWL) to neutral with a boosted price target of $5. Shares are trading 1 per cent higher at $4.70.

Bell Potter cut Gold Road Resources (ASX:GOR) rating to a hold from buy, and raised its target price to $1.70. Shares are trading 3.3 per cent lower at $1.60.

Company news

The partnership comprising Charter Hall (ASX:CHC) and Dutch pension fund PGGM are set to acquire Irongate for $1.90 per security with Irongate security holders entitled to retain the dividend for the period ending March 31. The deal will see Charter Hall retain a 12 per cent stake, with Dutch pension fund PGGM owning the remaining 88 per cent. Shares are trading 2.2 per cent higher at $16.56.

Eagers Automotive (ASX:APE) is in talks with WFM Motors to acquire a portfolio of dealerships in Canberra, ACT for around $205 million. The auto-parts retailer said the dealerships operate across 10 owned properties and three commercially leased sites, with an annual turnover of around $450 million. Shares are trading 2.3 per cent higher at $14.42.

Sandfire Resources (ASX:SFR) has appointed independent non-executive director John Richards as non-executive chair, effective from today. Mr Richards is taking over Derek La Ferla, who has served as the non-executive chairman of Sandfire since May 2010. Shares are trading 0.4 per cent lower at $5.73.

The Star Entertainment (ASX:SGR) has been served by Slater & Gordon with a statement of claim for a securities class action in the Supreme Court of Victoria. Star said the claim alleges that its company failed to comply with continuous disclosure requirements and engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct between 2016 and 2022. Shares are trading 0.9 per cent lower at $3.23.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is information technology, up 3.4 per cent. The worst-performing sector is energy, down 0.5 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Life360 (ASX:360), trading almost 8 per cent higher at $5.83. It is followed by shares in Magellan Financial Group (ASX:MFG) and Block (ASX:SQ2).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Incitec Pivot (ASX:IPL), trading 5.1 per cent lower at $3.79. It is followed by shares in Telix Pharmaceutical (ASX:TLX) and South32 (ASX:S32).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1919.21 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.4 per cent higher at US$152.95 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.8 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 75.09 US cents.

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