Materials soar: ASX closes 0.7% higher

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

The Australian sharemarket spent Monday’s session in positive territory with the local bourse rallying in the afternoon. Across the sectors, materials were the clear winner, followed by energy and real estate, while technology weighed.

Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) weighed on heavyweight miners, down 2.4 per cent to $18.15, while BHP Group (ASX:BHP) jumped 4.4 per cent to $46.66 and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) rose 3.2 per cent to $118.17.

Gold stocks rallied led by Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) up 3.4 per cent to $25.67. Northern Star (ASX:NST) added 3.1 per cent to $10.31 and Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) closed 1.9 per cent higher at $4.27. Shares in Perseus Mining (ASX:PRU) closed 3.7 per cent higher at $1.80, on news to acquire the remaining 75 per cent stake in Orca Gold. 

Energy stocks had a good run as Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) rose 2.1 per cent to $28.54, Santos (ASX:STO) added 1.5 per cent to $7.26 and Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) closed 1.3 per cent higher at $1.53.

Major banks were mixed with Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG) up 0.4 per cent to $180.78 and National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) up 0.1 per cent to $28.94. While on the other hand, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) fell 0.5 per cent to $93.46, ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) declined 0.3 per cent to $26.01 and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) closed 0.09 per cent lower at $22.81.

Life360 (ASX:360) weighed on the tech sector, closing 8.9 per cent lower at $5.20 despite no official company news released today.

Elsewhere, buy now pay later darling Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) was 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 the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.7 per cent or 51 points higher at 7,049.

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 rose 4.5 per cent to $12.92.

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 rose 2 per cent to $14.06.

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 lifted 1.7 per cent to $4.72.

Reproductive technology and IVF specialist Virtus Health (ASX:VRT) has received a revised takeover bid from BGH Capital. In a non-binding proposal, BGH improved its takeover offer to $7.65 a share, less any dividends declared by Virtus. It had previously offered $7.10 a share. Shares added 2.8 per cent to $7.45.

Lithium developer Core Lithium (ASX:CXO) has acquired six mineral leases (MLs) adjacent to the Finniss Lithium Project near Darwin. Core has now made a $5 million cash payment to the vendors in order to close the transaction. Shares rose 1.6 per cent to $0.77.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a fall of 561 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a fall of 103 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a fall of 369 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 39 points when the market next opens.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Materials, up nearly 3 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Information Technology, down 0.6 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Blackmores (ASX:BKL), closing 9.8 per cent higher at $82.65. It was followed by shares in Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals (ASX:CUV) and Lynas Rare Earths (ASX:LYC).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Life360 (ASX:360), closing 8.9 per cent lower at $5.20. It was followed by shares in Tyro Payments (ASX:TYR) and Telix Pharmaceutical (ASX:TLX).

Asian markets

Japan's Nikkei has lost 0.3 per cent.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng has lost 1.4 per cent.
China's Shanghai Composite has lost 0.3 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1911.85 an ounce.
Iron ore is 2.6 per cent lower at US$133.45 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 2.2 per cent.
Light crude is trading $5.47 higher at US$97.06 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.86 US cents.

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