Major banks lift, Lake Resources rises on lithium deal: ASX up 0.2% at noon

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

The Aussie sharemarket opened higher before easing back its gains at lunchtime after materials and energy erased its strong start. The financial sector is out in front, followed by consumer staples and real estate, while technology is the worst performer. 

Major banks are lifting the financial sector, led by Commonwealth (ASX:CBA), up 1.3 per cent to $106.77. Despite Macquarie (ASX:MQG) being down 0.7 per cent to $202.29, ANZ Banking (ASX:ANZ) has risen 1.2 per cent to $27.82, National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) has added 1.1 per cent to $32.82 and Westpac (ASX:WBC) is trading 0.8 per cent higher at $24.29 amid indicative offers for their flagship platform BT Panorama as per AFR.

Amid the rise in the underlying commodity prices, resource stocks are mixed this morning.

Gold stocks are rising, led by Northern Star (ASX:NST) up 3.1 per cent to $10.59. Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) has risen 1.8 per cent to $28.08 and Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) is trading 1.3 per cent higher at $4.38.

Onto energy stocks, Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) is up 0.8 per cent to $1.56 and Santos (ASX:STO) is up 0.6 per cent to $8.05, while Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) is down 1 per cent to $32.07.

Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) is weighing on major miners, down 2.4 per cent to $21.30. Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) has fallen 0.7 per cent to $118.19 and BHP (ASX:BHP) is edging 0.1 per cent lower at $51.90.

Meanwhile, lithium developer Lake Resources (ASX:LKE) has signed a non-binding agreement with Ford Motor Company for the delivery of around 25,000 tonnes of lithium per year from its Kachi project in Argentina. The company says it intends to use a direct extraction technology for the production of sustainable, high purity lithium. Shares are trading 11.3 per cent higher at $2.07.

In broker moves, Morningstar has cut Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) rating to a sell from a hold. Shares are trading 0.7 per cent lower at $60.87.

Elsewhere, Telstra (ASX:TLS) is being watched today after the public float of Foxtel is set to be delayed until later this year due to a range of domestic and international factors that have altered the media landscape in recent months as per The Australian. Shares are trading 0.1 per cent lower at $4.00.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.2 per cent or 12.7 points higher at 7490.7.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 4 points.

Local economic news

The National Skills Commission released its preliminary jobs vacancies data for March. Job advertisements increased by 3.7 per cent, or 10,200 ads in March to stand at 282,400.The strong increase in recruitment activity growth saw job advertisements reach their highest level since July 2008, prior to the impact of the 2007/8 global financial crisis.

The report said recruitment activity increased across all states and territories during March. The strongest growth was recorded in Northern Territory, which was up 9.1 per cent, followed by Queensland up 5.6 per cent, the ACT up 5.2 per cent, and Victoria up 4.4 per cent.

Company news

Summerset Group (ASX:SNZ) has reported its second highest quarter for the three months ending March 31. The retirement village operator has recorded 279 sales, compared to 275 sales in the prior year period. It said that despite challenges the Omicron outbreak posed around New Zealand, sales remained strong with 55 per cent of sales coming from outside the Auckland, Wellington and Canterbury regions. Shares are flat at $10.58.

Ventia (ASX:VNT) has won the asset management services contract from the NSW Government agency, Transport for NSW, to provide work across the Sydney Harbour Tunnel and Western Harbour Tunnel. The contract has an initial 15-year term with two 10-year extension options, and is expected to generate around $450 million in revenue to Ventia. Shares are trading 1.9 per cent higher at $2.66.

BlueScope (ASX:BSL) is set to acquire the US Coil Coatings business from Cornerstone Building Brands for $672 million (US$500 million). The steel producer said Coil Coatings is the second largest metal painter in the US, with a total capacity of around 900,000 tonnes per annum, predominantly serving commercial and industrial construction applications across seven facilities. Shares are trading 0.9 per cent higher at $20.67.

PointsBet’s (ASX:PBH) subsidiary PointsBet Canada has signed an agreement with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment that sees PointsBet become an official sports betting partner of Maple’s professional teams. The teams include Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Marlies, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Argonauts, and Toronto FC. Shares are trading 2.2 per cent lower at $3.18, and is the second-worst stock.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is financials, up 0.7 per cent. The worst-performing sector is information technology, down 0.8 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is GrainCorp (ASX:GNC), trading 6.4 per cent higher at $9.78. It is followed by shares in Regis Resources (ASX:RRL) and IGO (ASX:IGO).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is The A2 Milk Company (ASX:A2M), trading 3.4 per cent lower at $4.87. It is followed by shares in PointsBet Holdings (ASX:PBH) and Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1944.49 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.3 per cent lower at US$154.65 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 3.9 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.29 US cents.

Are you a 708 sophisticated investor?

A sophisticated investor is defined under Section 708 of the Corporations Act (net assets of $2.5 million or annual incomes in excess of $250,000).

They are eligible to receive information regarding wholesale investment opportunities that are not available to regular or retail investors.

Please subscribe if you would like to be alerted to these types of opportunities.