Business confidence rises to record high: ASX tracking 3 points higher at noon

Market Reports

by Melissa Darmawan

The Australian sharemarket started strong today with the S&P/ASX 200 tracking 0.05 per cent or 3 points higher at 6,977 at noon. The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 9 points. Information technology is leading the way with the likes of Afterpay (ASX:APT) up 3.7 per cent and Iress (ASX:IRE) up over 3.2 per cent. Splitit Payments (ASX:SPT) surged 10.3 per cent after announcing their partnership with UnionPay while ZipCo (ASX:Z1P) jumped 8.9 per cent following their quarterly update reporting a 80 per cent rise in revenue with record level transactions in their US-based company QuadPay. Industrials and energy stocks are in the red with Utilities as the worst performing sector. Perenti Global (ASX:PRN) is down 2.3 per cent after they were awarded a 2-year contract extension with AngloGold Ashanti (ASX:AGG) yesterday while heavyweight miners BHP and RIO are also trading in the red.

Local economic news

NAB released their business survey for March. Business conditions rose to a record high to 25 index points where the increase was broad-based across states and industries. The report indicated a rapid rebound in activity over the past year following close to record low conditions early last year.

Business confidence fell 3 index points to 15 index points yet remains well above average. NAB economists said that “confidence was generally weaker across all industries, led by a pull-back in wholesale and manufacturing. It remains highest in mining, finance, business & property and construction. It is weakest – though still healthy – in retail and wholesale”.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released their weekly payroll and jobs data. During 13 - 27 March 2021, payroll jobs increased 0.1 per cent. Total wages decreased by 0.4 per cent. Bjorn Jarvis, head of Labour Statistics at the ABS, said: “The pace of growth in payroll jobs across March was similar to what we saw in early March 2020, in the weeks before the major COVID-19 restrictions came into effect.”

Company news

Cleanaway Waste Management (ASX:CWY)’s $2.5 billion dollar bid to secure Suez’s Australian recycling business has been dealt a major blow, following Suez’s agreement in-principle to merge with French compatriot Veolia.

GR Engineering Services (ASX:GNG) has officially inked a $59.5 million deal with gold producer Pantoro (ASX:PNR). Under the agreement, the engineering consultant and contracting firm will deliver engineering, procurement and construction services to the Norseman Gold Project in Western Australia.

Property developer HomeCo Consortium (ASX:HMC) has recruited former Ramsay Health CEO Danny Sims as an advisor on the quest to diversify into the healthcare sector. The company has released an update to make investors aware of HomeCo’s plan to raise $ 1 billion to establish a “health and wellness” investment division and list a REIT. Hospitals, aged care and childcare centres and life sciences facilities are all acquisition targets of the equity raise.

Mining and exploration company IGO (AX:IGO) has accepted a $903 million bid from Gold miner Regis Resources (ASX:RRL) for a 30-per cent stake in the Tropicana Gold Project. The takeover is conditional and subject to approval from AngloGold Ashanti (ASX:AGG). The project’s joint owner has till March 31 to decide whether to object to the deal and acquire the same stake on the same terms and conditions agreed with Regis. Regis will raise $650 million and access its $300 million loan facility to fund the purchase.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Information Technology, adding 2.4 per cent, while the worst-performing sector is Utilities, shedding 1.2 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Zip Co (ASX:Z1P), rising 9.7 per cent to $9.13. It is followed by shares in Bingo Industries (ASX:BIN) and Eagers Automotive (ASX:APE).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Perenti Global (ASX:PRN), dropping 2.3 per cent to $1.08. It is followed by shares in Cimic Group (ASX:CIM) and Sydney Airport (ASX:SYD).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,733 an ounce.
The iron ore price has risen 0.6 per cent to US$174.57 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 2.8 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 76.12 US cents.

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