Financials lead, Materials drag: ASX closes 1.2% higher

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

The Australian sharemarket maintained momentum in the afternoon and finished Monday’s session in positive territory with all sectors higher, except materials. The financials sector led, followed by healthcare, then consumer staples.

Major banks had a good run today, led by ANZ Banking (ASX:ANZ), up 2.8 per cent to $26.58. Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG) rose 2.6 per cent to $187.00, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) added 2.6 per cent to $102, Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) was up 2.5 per cent to $23.23 and National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) closed 1.5 per cent higher at $30.38.

Agribusiness company Elders (ASX:ELD) led the market, closing 11 per cent higher at $13.32. The company said it expects underlying EBIT for the 2022 financial year to be 20 to 30 per cent above 2021 financial year levels.

Virtus Health (ASX:VRT) 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 closed 7.5 per cent higher at $8.28.

Energy stocks finished mixed, with Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) down 0.2 per cent to $31.92 and Santos (ASX:STO) down 0.3 per cent to $7.55, while Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) lifted 0.3 per cent to $1.60.

Meanwhile, Ampol (ASX:ALD) plans 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 closed 2.4 per cent higher at $28.79.

Gold stocks finished mixed, with Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) down 1 per cent to $26.57 and Northern Star (ASX:NST) down 0.4 per cent to $10.76, while Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) closed 1.1 per cent higher at $4.48.

Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) weighed on iron ore players, down 1 per cent to $18.04. BHP Group (ASX:BHP) fell 0.7 per cent to $47.36 and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) closed 0.5 per cent lower at $111.12.

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 1.2 per cent or 86 points higher at 7,149.

Company news

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 closed 2.2 per cent lower at $12.46.

Magellan Financial (ASX:MFG) 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 closed 2.2 per cent lower at $13.89.

Westgold Resources (ASX:WGX) completed its $100 million placement to new and existing investors. Under the placement, 48 million new shares were issued at $2.10 per share. Shares closed 12.3 per cent lower at $2.14.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 240 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a rise of 29 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a rise of 56 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 100 points when the market next opens.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Financials, up 2.5 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Materials, down 0.3 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Elders (ASX:ELD), closing 11 per cent higher at $13.32. It was followed by shares in Pendal Group (ASX:PDL) and Virgin Money UK (ASX:VUK).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN), closing 7.5 per cent lower at $0.81. It was followed by shares in Chalice Mining (ASX:CHN) and Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC).

Asian markets

Japan's Nikkei has gained 0.9 per cent.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng has lost 3.4 per cent.
China's Shanghai Composite has lost 1.4 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1976.20 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 3.4 per cent.
Light crude is trading $2.69 lower at US$103.61 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 72.54 US cents. 

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