Block leads tech higher, Magellan jumps on buyback news: ASX up 1.1% at noon

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

The Aussie sharemarket has opened higher following Wall St’s lead. Dip buyers have emerged amid hopes of a positive outcome on peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. All sectors are in positive territory with technology leading, followed by healthcare and consumer staples, while energy is shedding the least.

Afterpay owner Block (ASX:SQ2) is leading the market, trading 7.3 per cent higher at $143.33. On top of this, Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) is trading 4.4 per cent higher at $1.47.

Meanwhile, Magellan Financial (ASX:MFG) is up 5.6 per cent to $14.63 after announcing an on-market share buyback of up to 10 million ordinary fully paid shares, representing up to 5.4 per cent of shares on issue. This is the third-best stock.

Major banks are doing well, led by ANZ Banking (ASX:ANZ), which is up 1.6 per cent to $27.13. Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG) has risen 1.2 per cent to $188.48, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) has added 0.9 per cent to $104.74, National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) is up 0.6 per cent to $30.82 and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) is trading 0.6 per cent higher at $23.64. Westpac (ASX:WBC) has appointed Yianna Papanikolaou to the newly created position of chief transformation officer. 

BHP Group (ASX:BHP) is weighing on iron ore players, down 0.3 per cent to $45.26, while Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) is up 1.5 per cent to $17.41 and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is trading 0.6 per cent higher to $107.37.

Gold stocks are higher, led by Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) up 1.8 per cent to $4.47. Northern Star (ASX:NST) has added 1.3 per cent to $10.61 and Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) is trading 0.4 per cent higher at $25.92.

Energy stocks are mixed, with Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) down 0.1 per cent to $30.97, Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) down 0.2 per cent to $1.52 and Santos (ASX:STO) up 0.1 per cent to $7.25.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 1.1 per cent or 78.5 points higher at 7175.9.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 69 points.

Company news

Suncorp’s (ASX:SUN) estimated natural hazard costs for the full year has increased to around $1.1 billion from $1.07 billion, following the flood recovery in Queensland and NSW. The company’s net retained loss from these events remains unchanged at $75 million. As of March 14, Suncorp had received more than 34,000 claims, with over 80 per cent of them related to home damage. Shares are trading 0.3 per cent higher at $11.06.

Centuria Capital (ASX:CNI) has announced a healthcare partnership through a joint venture sponsored by Morgan Stanley Real Estate Investing. It will be named the Centuria Prime Partnership, seeded with three healthcare real estate assets collectively worth $210 million and will comprise a 90 per cent investment from Morgan Stanley and 10 per cent from Centuria. Shares are trading flat at $2.96.

Meanwhile, total passenger volumes at Auckland Airport (ASX:AIA) were 1.2 per cent lower in January compared to the prior year period, and were down 73 per cent compared to pre-Covid numbers in January 2019. In February, total passenger volumes decreased by 19.9 per cent compared to the prior year period, and were down 78.8 per cent compared to pre-Covid numbers in February 2019. Shares are trading 1 per cent higher at $6.91.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is information technology, up 3.3 per cent. The sector with the fewest gains is energy, up 0.2 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Block (ASX:SQ2), trading 7.3 per cent higher at $143.33. It is followed by shares in Life360 (ASX:360) and Magellan Financial Group (ASX:MFG).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Nanosonics (ASX:NAN), trading 1.8 per cent lower at $3.80. It is followed by shares in Uniti Group (ASX:UWL) and Super Retail Group (ASX:SUL).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1922.24 an ounce.
Iron ore is 6.5 per cent lower at US$135.55 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 1.37 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.82 US cents.

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