CBA lead banks higher, Iron ore prices weigh on Mineral Resources: ASX up 0.2% at noon

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

The Aussie sharemarket is climbing higher this morning as technology and financials stocks lift the market, while energy weighs. 

Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) is leading major banks after posting a 21 per cent surge in after-tax profit to $5.87 billion and unveiling its plans for an on-market share buyback of up to $2 billion dollars. The bank posted its net interest margin of 1.92 per cent for the half-year ending December 31, down 17 basis points on the second half of last year and 14 basis points lower than the first half in 2021. Shares are trading 4.12 per cent higher at $98.19.

The other banks are higher except Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG), which is trading 2 per cent lower at $197.54. Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) has added 2 per cent to $22.28, National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) is up 0.8 per cent to $27.96 and ANZ Bank (ASX:ANZ) is trading 0.8 per cent higher at $27.17.

Computershare (ASX:CPU) is leading the tech sector, up 9.4 per cent as the best-performing stock, following its half year announcement yesterday. 

Heavyweight miners are mixed, with Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) adding 0.8 per cent to $118.12, Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) up 1.1 per cent to $22.48 and BHP (ASX:BHP) trading 0.8 per cent lower at $48.75. 

Mineral Resources’ (ASX:MIN) earnings dropped 80 per cent in the half year ending December 31, due to the collapse in iron ore prices and widening discounts. The mining company decided not to declare an interim dividend due to the loss and volatile iron ore conditions. Shares are trading 7.1 per cent lower at $53.80. 

Gold stocks are also mixed with Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) trading 0.5 per cent higher at $22.66, Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) up 0.3 per cent to $3.61 and Northern Star (ASX:NST) trading 0.06 per cent lower at $8.47.

Energy stocks hare weighing with Santos (ASX:STO) declining 2.1 per cent to $7.44, Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) down 2 per cent to $1.49 and Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) trading 1.8 per cent lower at $26.54.

Elsewhere, Temple & Webster’s (ASX:TPW) revenue grew 46 per cent over the half year to $235.4 million, thanks to its customer base growing by 34 per cent to 906,000. The furniture retailer defied the challenges of supply chain issues. The company is off to a positive start to 2022 with sales in January up 26 per cent compared to the same time a year ago. Shares advanced 10.8 per cent to $8.92. 

The owner of Autobarn and Midas, Bapcor (ASX:BAP) lifted its interim dividend despite a 14.7 per cent fall in net profit for the second half of 2021. The ongoing challenges of lockdowns weighed on store sales. On a brighter note, the auto-parts retailer said that revenue rebounded in the second quarter of this financial year after the easing of restrictions. Shares are down 5 per cent to $6.70. 

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.2 per cent or 15.1 points higher at 7201.8.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 15 points.

Local economic news

Westpac and the Melbourne Institute released the February consumer sentiment report. Consumer sentiment fell by 1.3 per cent to 100.8 in February from 102.2 in January. The report said given that the health disruptions from the Omicron variant have eased and the labour market has strengthened it is surprising that we did not see some improvement in the Index in February.

The report also said most likely explanations for these elevated pressures on finances relate to: Omicron-related disruptions to activity and earnings at the start of the year, the rising cost of living and the prospect of rising interest rates.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Information Technology, up 1.8 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Energy, down 1.6 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Computershare (ASX:CPU), trading 9.5 per cent higher at $21.82. It is followed by shares in South32 (ASX:S32) and Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Nanosonics (ASX:NAN), trading 8.5 per cent lower at $4.39. It is followed by shares in Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) and IDP Education (ASX:IEL).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1825.72 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.4 per cent higher at US$149.95 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 2.5 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.43 US cents.

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