ASX flat on choppy moves, Energy rises again, Omicron wave hits Wesfarmers at noon

Market Reports

by Melissa Darmawan

Choppy moves underpinned this morning's performance as energy and consumer discretionary stocks offset weakness in property, materials, and communication services as investors digested trading updates which opened the first day of the trading week. This came after a late afternoon recovery on Wall St as technology shares were back in favour after disappointing bank earnings and fresh economic data reinforcing the role of inflation impacting the pockets of consumers.

Back home, pushing the consumer discretionary higher to the best performing sector is Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) trading 2.1 per cent higher at $55.11. The conglomerate is set to deliver a net profit of between $1.18 billion and $1.24 billion for the six months ended December, in line with consensus expectations. However, the owner of Bunnings, Kmart and Target said that retail trading conditions deteriorated in the last two weeks of 2021 and flagged that customer traffic to stores had remained subdued during the first half of January.

Taking a bit of attention are travel stocks with Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) and Corporate Travel Management (ASX:CTD) taking off 2.9 per cent and 1.9 per cent respectively amid New South Wales reporting 29,504 new Covid-19 cases, down from 34,660 cases the previous day. Victoria has also seen a drop in cases while Queensland has recorded seven deaths and 15,122 new cases on what is the state's deadliest day of the pandemic so far.

Supported by a rise in oil prices, the energy sector continues to power up overtaking consumer stocks at times this morning to be the best performer. Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) is up 1.4 per cent higher at $25.15, shares in Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) are trading 2.7 per cent higher at $1.44 while Santos (ASX:STO) is up 1.4 per cent at $7.08.

The best performing stock is Adbri (ASX:ABC) soaring 7.9 per cent at $3.01 after its subsidiary, Cockburn Cement business, extended its supply agreement with Aloca for another year from this month. Cockburn Cement will supply the minimum and maximum volume of quicklime as part of the existing contract.

Major banks are lifting higher led by ANZ Banking (ASX:ANZ) trading 0.5 per cent higher followed by Macquarie Bank (ASX:MQG) up 0.4 per cent, Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) up 0.3 per cent, Westpac (ASX:WBC) added 0.1 per cent while National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) is eking out a 0.03 per cent gain.

Iron ore miners are drilling into the red with Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) trading 2.6 per cent lower at $20.82, Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) down 0.7 per cent at $109.84, while BHP Group (ASX:BHP) is trading 0.6 per cent lower at $46.38.

Gold stocks are in negative territory with Northern Star (ASX:NST) trading 2.3 per cent lower, Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) is down 2.1 per cent and Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) is 1.2 per cent lower.

Meanwhile, Pendal Group (ASX:PDL) has surged 6.2 per cent to $5.31 on news of the retirement of James Evans as chairman and the appointment of Deborah Page as chairwoman. The moves come after a fall in funds under management last week which saw their share price nose dive 15.8 per cent on Friday while Centuria Industrial REIT (ASX:CIP) is edging lower by 0.4 per cent at $3.88 after revealing its latest spending spree to the value of $132.4 million for six industrial assets. 

Elsewhere, MA Financial Group (ASX:MAF), formerly Moelis Australia, upgraded its earnings on positive asset revaluations for some of Redcape Hotel Group’s assets, shares are soaring 9.7 per cent higher at $9.68.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is flat at 0.01 per cent or 1 point higher at 7,395.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 3 points.

Company news

Praemium (ASX:PPS) is celebrating its second highest number of net inflows in the December quarter. The financial provider reported outstanding momentum which saw funds under administration grow, and the divestment of its international business continue. Shares are trading 2.3 per cent higher at $1.35.

South32 (ASX:S32) is one step closer to developing its Hermosa project in Arizona, USA after a pre-feasibility study. The results from the study said it could be the start of a multi-decade operation, producing low-carbon metals. Shares are trading 2.4 per cent lower at $4.08.
 
Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is consumer discretionary, up 1.4 per cent. The worst-performing sector is property, down 1.3 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Adbri (ASX:ABC), trading 8.6 per cent higher at $3.03. It is followed by shares in Pendal Group (ASX:PDL) and Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is CSR (ASX:CSR), trading 4.5 per cent lower at $5.71. It is followed by shares in Perseus Mining (ASX:PRU) and Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1815.14 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.9 per cent lower at US$126.75 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 2.7 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 72.07 US cents.

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