Elders jumps, Virtus accepts CapeVest bid: ASX up 1.1% at noon

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

Starting the week off on a positive note, the Aussie sharemarket has opened higher with all sectors in the green. Financials are leading, followed by healthcare, while materials are shedding the least. 

Agribusiness company Elders (ASX:ELD) is leading the market, up 11 per cent to $13.32. The company says it expects underlying EBIT for the 2022 financial year to be 20 to 30 per cent above 2021 financial year levels.

Major banks are higher, led by Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) up 2.3 per cent to $23.18 and ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) up 2.3 per cent to $26.45. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) has risen 2.1 per cent to $101.48, Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG) has added 1.9 per cent to $185.77 and National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) is trading 1.7 per cent higher at $30.46.

Meanwhile, Magellan Financial (ASX:MFG) has noted a further $5 billion in net outflows since February 25, of which $4.7 billion are institutional outflows. As of March 11, Magellan had funds under management (FUM) of around $69.1 billion, compared with the last reported FUM of $77.2 billion. Magellan said the change reflects the recent market volatility. Shares are trading 2.6 per cent lower at $13.83.

Virtus Health (ASX:VRT) has accepted a takeover bid from CapeVest despite receiving a rival bid from BGH Capital. Virtus has signed a transaction implementation deed, in which CapVest will acquire the company for $8.25 cash per share less any dividends declared or paid after today, including the 12 cents per share dividend declared on February 22. Shares are trading 7.8 per cent higher at $8.30.

Energy stocks are mixed, with Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) up 1.9 per cent to $1.63, while Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) is down 0.5 per cent to $31.81 and Santos (ASX:STO) is trading 0.1 per cent lower at $7.56.

Ampol (ASX:ALD) is set to sell its Gull business in New Zealand to investment manager Allegro for around $474 million (NZ$509 million.) The petroleum giant has committed to a five-year fuel supply agreement with Gull and intends to use proceeds from the sale to fund the proposed acquisition of Z Energy. Shares are trading 2.3 per cent higher at $28.77

Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) is leading iron ore players, up 1.4 per cent to $18.49. However, Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is down 0.1 per cent to $111.57 and BHP Group (ASX:BHP) is trading 0.04 per cent lower at $47.67.

IGO’s (ASX:IGO) bid to acquire Western Areas is still in talks after the Western board appointed an independent expert to determine whether the acquisition is in the best interest of its shareholders in response to the recent nickel price volatility. IGO said nickel volatility is attributed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Shares are down 3.7 per cent to $12.27.

Gold stocks are lower, except Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) trading 2.4 per cent higher at $4.54. Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) is down 0.9 per cent to $26.61 and Northern Star (ASX:NST) is trading 0.5 per cent to $10.75.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 1.1 per cent or 74.8 points higher at 7138.4.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 73 points.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is financials, up over 2 per cent. The sector with the fewest gains is materials, up 0.2 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Elders (ASX:ELD), trading 11.00 per cent higher at $13.32. It is followed by shares in Virgin Money UK (ASX:VUK) and Pendal Group (ASX:PDL).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN), trading 5.2 per cent lower at $0.83. It is followed by shares in Block (ASX:SQ2) and Zip Co (ASX:Z1P).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1978.20 an ounce.
Iron ore is 1.2 per cent lower at US$154.50 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 2.8 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 72.79 US cents.

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