Aristocrat defies Ukraine impact, Heavy rain hits Aurelia: ASX up 0.8% at noon

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

The Aussie sharemarket has opened higher with all sectors in positive territory following a whipsaw session around the globe. Technology is adding the most points, followed by consumer discretionary and communication services, while healthcare is shedding the least. 

Aristocrat Leisure (ASX:ALL) says it does not anticipate that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will have a material impact on earnings, despite having around 1,000 people who normally work within Aristocrat’s Pixel organisation in Ukraine. The company has assisted over two-thirds of its Ukraine-based employees and their families to voluntarily relocate. Shares are trading 3.8 per cent higher at $35.13. 

Novonix (ASX:NVX) is leading the tech sector higher, up 5.1 per cent despite not releasing any official company announcements. 

Energy stocks are higher, led by Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) up 1.8 per cent to $33.56. Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) has added 0.4 per cent to $1.71 and Santos (ASX:STO) is trading 0.1 per cent higher at $7.87.

Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) announced it intends to undertake an initial on-market share buyback of $250 million, which is expected to commence in April this year. Shares are trading 1.6 per cent higher at $5.87. 

Major banks are higher, led by Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) up 1.6 per cent to $97.12. Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG) has added 1.3 per cent to $177.91, National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) has risen 1.4 per cent to $28.88, Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) is up 1.4 per cent to $21.98 and ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) is trading 1.1 per cent higher at $25.08.

Meanwhile, IAG (ASX:IAG) said it remains focussed on supporting customers affected by the severe storms and flooding in south-east Queensland and NSW. By 6am this morning, IAG had received around 24,000 claims and has now increased its expectation for FY22 net natural perils claims costs to around $1.1 billion, compared to the previous estimate of $1.04 billion. Shares are trading 0.5 per cent higher at $4.28. 

Heavyweight miners are mixed, with Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) up 0.5 per cent to $18.75 and BHP (ASX:BHP) up 0.06 per cent to $48.56, while Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is trading 0.4 per cent lower at $120.05.

Gold stocks are also mixed, with Northern Star (ASX:NST) down 0.09 per cent to $10.86 and Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) down 0.7 per cent to $27.50, while Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) is trading 0.5 per cent higher at $4.44.

Due to heavy rain currently impacting the east coast of Australia, Aurelia Metals (ASX:AMI) suspended production at its Dargues Gold Mine in NSW. The company said record rainfall has impacted both the underground mine and surface infrastructure. Shares are trading 7.5 per cent lower at $0.44. 

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.8 per cent or 56.1 points higher at 7036.4.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 75 points.

Local economic news 

The Reserve Bank Governor, Philip Lowe delivered a speech at the Australian Financial Review Business Summit. Click here for more info. 

The Westpac and Melbourne Institute released its consumer confidence report for March. Consumer sentiment fell by 4.2 per cent to 96.6 in March from 100.8 in February.

The report said this was the weakest print since September 2020, which is also the last time the index was below the 100-level. The previous low marked the end of a 15-month run of pessimism that began when the economy hit a flat patch in the second half of 2019 and worsened dramatically with the onset of the global pandemic just over two years ago.

It also said the survey would have captured most of the south-east Queensland and Northern NSW floods but preceded most of the current disasters in greater Sydney. Confidence in rural areas was generally quite resilient in the survey, most likely reflecting the encouraging developments in agricultural commodity prices and growing conditions across wider rural Australia.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is information technology, up 2.5 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Health Care, down 0.2 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN), trading 8.6 per cent higher at $0.76. It is followed by shares in Chalice Mining (ASX:CHN) and Novonix (ASX:NVX).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC), trading 22.7 per cent lower at $1.14. It is followed by shares in St Barbara (ASX:SBM) and ResMed (ASX:RMD).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$2038.99 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.3 per cent lower at US$162.25 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.1 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 72.80 US cents.

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