Incitec Pivot lifts, Nickel Mines rises on SPP withdraw: ASX down 0.3% at noon

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

The ASX has fallen into negative territory this morning following Wall Street, in the wake of failed ceasefire talks between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers. The technology sector is weighing on the local bourse, followed by consumer discretionary and real estate, while materials are performing the best.

Appen (ASX:APX) is weighing on the tech sector, falling 4.4 per cent, although no official company announcements have been released. 

Energy stocks are mixed, with Santos (ASX:STO) down 0.9 per cent to $7.53 and Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) down 0.3 per cent to $31.55, while Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) is trading 1.9 per cent higher at $1.63.

Major banks are lifting higher, except Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG), which is down 0.1 per cent to $183.76. ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) has added 0.7 per cent to $25.94, Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) has risen 0.6 per cent to $22.80, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) is up 0.1 per cent to $99.86 and National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) is trading 0.1 per cent higher at $30.01.

Heavyweight miners are higher, led by Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG), up 2.1 per cent to $18.59. Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) has added 1.9 per cent to $112.70 and BHP Group (ASX:BHP) is trading 1.1 per cent higher at $48.27.

Gold stocks are mixed, with Northern Star (ASX:NST) up 1.1 per cent to $10.91 and Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) up 0.1 per cent to $4.44, while Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) is trading 0.5 per cent lower at $26.89.

Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC) has withdrawn its share purchase plan after noting the retraction in the company’s share price and current market volatility. The miner said applications had far exceeded the $18 million target after it reached around $57 million. However, the company will refund applicants on March 16. Shares are trading 5.7 per cent higher at $1.29, and the company is the best-performing stock. 

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.3 per cent or 22.8 points lower at 7108.

The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 31 points.

Company news

Incitec Pivot (ASX:IPL) has appointed Paul Victor from Sasol in South Africa as Incitec’s chief financial officer (CFO). Chris Opperman will continue as interim CFO until Victor starts on July 1. Shares are trading 3.6 per cent higher at $3.74. 

Meanwhile, the kitchen appliance maker Breville (ASX:BRG) is set to acquire the Italian-based coffee group LELIT. The transaction is expected to complete by early July, following a pre-acquisition restructure of the LELIT group. Shares are trading 1.9 per cent lower at $26.48. 

In relation to the Brisbane Floods class action, Omni Bridgeway’s (ASX:OBL) leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia is scheduled to be heard on April 12. This comes after the NSW Supreme Court decided against the appeal in favour of Seqwater, a state-owned enterprise of Queensland. Shares are trading 1.2 per cent lower at $3.30. 

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is materials, up almost 1 per cent. The worst-performing sector is information technology, down 2.5 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC), trading 5.7 per cent higher at $1.29. It is followed by shares in Allkem (ASX:AKE) and Champion Iron (ASX:CIA).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Mesoblast (ASX:MSB), trading 5.1 per cent lower at $1.17. It is followed by shares in Appen (ASX:APX) and Megaport (ASX:MP1).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1992.33 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.8 per cent lower at US$156.35 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 4.48 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 73.50 US cents.

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