Health and Utilities form resistance front: Aus shares close 0.3 per cent lower

Market Reports

by Michael Luu

Text-only (non-video) report.

The Australian sharemarket began to claw back losses after midday, as falls decelerated and erased fears of a two-month low.

Health and utilities formed a resistance front, pushing back the broader decline, as biotech CSL (ASX:CSL) mounted a comeback from a lower start to a 1.4 per cent rise in the last hour of trade. ResMed (ASX:RMD) and Cochlear (ASX:COH) also joined the rally, tracking over 1.3 per cent higher by 3.45pm.

The tech sector continued to take a beating, mirroring stateside falls in US technology stocks and extending its run of losses to three consecutive sessions. Data science firm Nuix (ASX:NXL) maintained its position at the bottom to mark its second worst trading day since listing.

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.29 per cent or 20.40 points lower at 6997.40.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a fall of 26 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a fall of 5 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a fall of 45 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a 33 point fall tomorrow morning.

Economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released preliminary figures reflecting a 1.4 per cent increase in seasonally adjusted retail sales, as Aussie consumers injected $30.7 billion into the retail sector via purchases of goods and services. The hospitality industry spearheaded the advance, as cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services reported a 6 per cent increase in consumer revenue

Market analysts have linked the robust retail activity to the highest consumer confidence in 11 years. This is further evidence of an economic rebound from the pandemic, as annual retail sales recorded a 2.3 per cent rise in March, compared to the same period last year.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Health Care, up 1.06 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Information Technology, down 1.93 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was IDP Education (ASX:IEL), closing 5.12 per cent higher at $24.45. It was followed by shares in Corporate Travel Management (ASX:CTD) and Nufarm (ASX:NUF).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Nuix (ASX:NXL), closing 15.38 per cent lower at $4.29. It was followed by shares in Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) and Challenger (ASX:CGF).

Asian markets

Japan's Nikkei has lost 2.03 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng has lost 1.72 per cent. The Shanghai Composite has gained 0.19 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1785.77 an ounce.
Iron ore is 4.30 per cent higher at US$189.61 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 0.50 per cent.
Light crude is trading $0.42 lower at $59.85.
One Australian dollar is buying 77.13 US cents.