Zip Co pauses trading, Perseus splurges on Orca takeover: ASX up 0.3% at noon

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

After opening higher, the Aussie sharemarket has held its gains thanks to a boost in energy and materials, although technology is weighing on the index.

Energy stocks are higher led by Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) adding 2.6 per cent to $28.68. Santos (ASX:STO) is up 1.4 per cent to $7.25 and Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) is trading 0.2 per cent higher at $1.51.

Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) is weighing on iron ore players, down 4.7 per cent to $17.73, while BHP Group (ASX:BHP) is up 3 per cent to $46.02 and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is trading 2.3 per cent higher at $117.13.

Gold stocks are ahead with Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) up 2.4 per cent to $25.41, Northern Star (ASX:NST) up 2.1 per cent to $10.21 and Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) trading 1.7 per cent higher at $4.26. Perseus Mining (ASX:PRU), which already owns a 15 per cent stake in Orca Gold, is set to acquire the remaining 75 per cent for $234.6 million. Shares are trading 1.4 per cent higher at $1.76. 

Major banks are lower except Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) trading 0.1 per cent higher at $22.85. Macquarie (ASX:MQG) has fallen 1.5 per cent to $177.31, National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) has declined 0.8 per cent to $28.68, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) is down 0.2 per cent to $93.73 and ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) is trading 0.1 per cent lower at $26.07.

Life360 (ASX:360) is weighing on the tech sector, trading 8.3 per cent lower at $5.24 despite no official company news released today. 

Elsewhere, buy now pay later darling Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) is in a trading halt ahead of an announcement. The move comes after talks of a potential takeover of Sezzle (ASX:SZL). Their proposed earnings update was postponed for later this week. Shares last traded at $2.21 on Friday.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.3 per cent or 19.6 points higher at 7017.4.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 23 points.

Local economic news 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released its retail sales for January, which rose 1.8 per cent month-on-month and 6.4 per cent compared with January 2021.

Company news 

Lifting of Covid-related restrictions helped mourners say goodbye to loved ones. This helped InvoCare’s (ASX:IVC) profit rebound for 2021. Profit after tax came in at $80.2 million from a loss of $11.5 million loss in the prior year period. Revenue grew 11 per cent to $532.5 million, while its EBITDA rose 22 per cent to $125.5 million. A final dividend of 11.5 cents per share is set to be paid in April. Shares are up 2.1 per cent to $12.63. 

Dicker Data (ASX:DDR) posted its results for the full year ending December 31, a period where the use of technology accelerated during lockdowns. The software company's net profit after tax rose 28.6 per cent to 73.6 million, while its revenue lifted 24.2 per cent to $2.48 billion for the year. Australian revenue grew by 16.3 per cent and New Zealand revenue grew by 128.7 per cent. Shares are up 1.1 per cent to $13.94.

Liberty Financial (ASX:LFG) posted its results for the half year ending December 31. The mortgage lender's statutory net profit after tax grew 40 per cent to $116.5 million, while its revenue lifted 1.7 per cent to $440.6 million. Shares are up 0.2 per cent to $4.65. 

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is materials, up 1.7 per cent. The worst-performing sector is information technology, down 0.9 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is GrainCorp (ASX:GNC), trading 4.7 per cent higher at $8.38. It is followed by shares in Medibank Private (ASX:MPL) and Iluka Resources (ASX:ILU).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Life360 (ASX:360), trading 8.3 per cent lower at $5.24. It is followed by shares in Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) and PointsBet Holdings (ASX:PBH).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1918.70 an ounce.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.85 US cents.
Iron ore is 2.6 per cent lower at US$133.45 a ton. Iron ore futures are 2.5 per cent higher.

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