Energy leads losses, Seek jumps on higher dividend: ASX down 0.5% at noon

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

The Aussie sharemarket opened lower and has remained in negative territory, as energy stocks erase its gains from yesterday amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Nearly all sectors are in the red, except materials and technology, which are lifting a touch higher. 

Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) has dropped 7.7 per cent to $1.50, and is the worst-performing stock. Santos (ASX:STO) is down 2.6 per cent to $7.52 and Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) is trading 1.7 per cent lower at $26.96.

BHP (ASX:BHP) is set to pay a record US$1.50 interim dividend after posting a US$9.44 billion half-year profit underpinned by a surge in the price of key commodities. The miner's after-tax profit soared 144 per cent from the first half of the previous financial year from US$3.88 billion amid stronger pricing in iron ore, coal, oil and copper. Shares in BHP Group (ASX:BHP) are up 1.1 per cent at $48.83 after the announcement, while Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) is lower by 2.6 per cent at $22.17, followed by Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO), trading 1.3 per cent lower at $119.95.

Major banks are lower except National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB), which is trading 0.03 per cent higher at $30.44. Westpac (ASX:WBC) has fallen 2 per cent to $23.41, Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG) has declined 1.1 per cent to $192.13, ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) is down 0.8 per cent to $27.97 and Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) is trading 0.3 per cent lower at $99.74.

Onto gold players, Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) is up 0.2 per cent to $23.74, Northern Star (ASX:NST) is up 0.1 per cent to $9.01 and Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) is trading 0.5 per cent lower at $3.94.

Elsewhere, Seek (ASX:SEK) has lifted its interim dividend after posting strong sales and profit for the first half of the 2022 financial year. The online job platform’s sales revenue rose 59 per cent to $517.2 million, while profit jumped 152 per cent to $126.7 million as businesses recovered from Covid-related cuts. The company declared a first half interim dividend of 23 cents per share, its best one in three years. Shares are trading 7.3 per cent higher at $29.80, and is the second-best stock. 

A robust TV advertising market underpinned Seven West Media’s (ASX:SWM) performance in the first half of the financial year, with revenue and earnings soaring. The company’s revenue rose 28 per cent to $820 million while net profit grew by 3.2 per cent to $120 million. The 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, The Voice and the AFL grand final helped boost viewers and ratings growth. The company has upgraded its full-year group EBITDA guidance to between $315 million and $325 million from its prior $260 million. Despite the stellar results, Seven West has not declared an interim dividend. Shares are trading 5.4 per cent lower at $0.70.

Meanwhile supply chain disruptions, raw materials shortages and increased demand hurt sales in GWA Group (ASX:GWA). The company’s revenue grew 2.1 per cent to $201.3 million while EBIT increased 1 per cent to $30.2 million. The bathroom fittings company declared its highest dividend in two years despite this slight lift. Shares are trading 3.9 per cent lower at $2.50. 

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.5 per cent or 34.6 points lower at 7209.3.

The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 49 points.

Local economic news

ANZ and Roy Morgan released it’s weekly consumer sentiment report. Consumer confidence increased 3.3 points to 103.2 during the second week of February and is now at its highest since the first week of January 2022. Consumer confidence is still 6.7 points below the same week a year ago, February 13/14, 2021 (109.9) but is now above the 2022 weekly average of 101.5.

The report said consumer confidence this week was up around the country with the largest increases in Queensland, NSW, Western Australia, and Tasmania. Driving the increases were changes in sentiment regarding the performance of Australians’ personal finances compared to a year ago and over the next year.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Information Technology, up 0.3 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Energy, down 2.2 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Sims (ASX:SGM), trading 17.1 per cent higher at $17.55. It is followed by shares in Seek (ASX:SEK) and Block (ASX:SQ2).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Beach Energy (ASX:BPT), trading 7.7 per cent lower at $1.50. It is followed by shares in Chalice Mining (ASX:CHN) and ResMed (ASX:RMD).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1871.73 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.5 per cent lower at US$149.40 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 5.3 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.35 US cents.

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