PointsBet drops 7.5%, Afterpay drags: ASX finishes 0.7% lower

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

The Australian sharemarket remained in the red for the afternoon session as tech stocks continued to weigh on the market. At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.7 per cent or 51 points lower at 7,327.

Across the sectors, 9 out of 11 closed in the red. Technology was the biggest drag, down 2.6 per cent, followed by real estate, down 1.4 per cent, then communication services, down 1.2 per cent. Meanwhile, consumer staples and utilities edged higher.

Tech stocks tumbled, with Altium (ASX:ALU) down 4 per cent and Megaport (ASX:MP1) down 5.8 per cent. Buy now, pay later giant's Afterpay (ASX:APT) and Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) also fell 3.3 and 6.7 per cent. 

Medical device companies fell, with ResMed (ASX:RMD) down 2.7 per cent and PolyNovo (ASX:PNV) down 7 per cent. Gold miners also fell, with Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) down 5.2 per cent following the sale of the Mt Carlton gold mine.

The worst-performing stock was wagering platform PointsBet (ASX:PBH), closing 7.6 per cent lower despite releasing no specific news to the market.

Across the losses, advertiser REA (ASX:REA) was down 3.4 per cent, online job searcher Seek (ASX:SEL) was 3.4 per cent and property giant Stockland (ASX:SGP) was down 3.8 per cent.

In headlines, asset manager Challenger (ASX:CGF) closed 1.2 per cent higher following the appointment of its new CEO. Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) closed 0.1 per cent higher, after announcing its intention to block Woolworths from acquiring Australian Pharmaceutical Industries. Woolworths (ASX:WOW) closed 0.1 per cent lower. 
 
Local economic news

Melbourne institute released its monthly consumer confidence report for December. Consumer sentiment fell 1 per cent to 104.3 in December from 105.3 in November.

There was a clear difference in responses between the states hit hardest by recent Delta outbreaks and the rest of Australia. Both NSW and Victoria posted significant falls, down 3.6 and 3.5 per cent, while sentiment was up 3.4 per cent in Queensland, WA was up 3.2 per cent and and SA was up 7.1 per cent.

NSW has recorded its highest number of new Covid-19 cases since September 11, with 1,360 cases. 

Company news

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MA Financial (ASX:MAF) is set to acquire BNK Banking’s mortgage business, Finsure for $145 million.

Annuities business Challenger (ASX:CGF) has appointed Nick Hamilton as managing director and CEO, replacing Richard Howes.

Corporate Travel (ASX:CTD) is set to acquire Helloworld’s corporate travel business with an enterprise value offer of $175 million. 

Conglomerate giant Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) is sticking to its plans to acquire Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (API) and intends to block Woolworths' (ASX:WOW) offer.

Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) has completed the sale of the Mt Carlton gold mine to Navarre Minerals (ASX:NML).

Pharmaceutical company Blackmores (ASX:BKL) has appointed Patrick Gibson as its new chief financial officer (CFO) following the resignation of current CFO Gunther Burghardt.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 53 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a rise of 6 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a rise of 4 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 60 points when the market next opens.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Utilities, up 0.3 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Information Technology, down 2.6 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Virgin Money UK (ASX:VUK), closing 4.1 per cent higher at $3.08. It was followed by shares in Alumina (ASX:AWC) and Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was PointsBet Holdings (ASX:PBH), closing 7.6 per cent lower at $6.83. It was followed by shares in PolyNovo (ASX:PNV) and HUB24 (ASX:HUB).

Asian markets

Japan's Nikkei is flat.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng has gained 0.2 per cent.
China's Shanghai Composite has gained 0.1 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1771.30 an ounce.
Iron ore is flat at US$110.20 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 1.1 per cent.
Light crude is trading $0.90 lower at US$69.62 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.14 US cents.

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