Financials lead, Tech stocks weigh: ASX closes 0.1% higher

Market Reports

by Lauren Evans

Despite a strong start, the Australian sharemarket eased back its gains in the afternoon and finished Monday’s session just a touch higher. Sectors were mixed across the local bourse, with financials in the winner’s seat while technology weighed. In the winner’s corner were consumer staples, communication services and real estate, while consumer discretionary, materials and energy joined tech in the red.

Major banks posted solid gains, except Macquarie (ASX:MQG), which fell 0.9 per cent to $201.91 while NAB (ASX:NAB) led the pack, up 1.5 per cent to $32.96. Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) rose 1.4 per cent to $106.88, ANZ (ASX:ANZ) lifted 0.7 per cent to $27.70 and Westpac (ASX:WBC) closed 0.6 per cent higher at $24.24 amid indicative offers for their flagship platform BT Panorama, as per AFR.

Resources were on watch today, which saw stocks move in both directions. 

Gold stocks rallied, led by Northern Star (ASX:NST) up 3.9 per cent to $10.67. Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) rose 2.1 per cent to $28.18 and Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) closed 1.6 per cent higher at $4.39.

Energy stocks were mixed. Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) fell 1.1 per cent to $32.06, while Santos (ASX:STO) rose 0.8 per cent to $8.07 and Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) closed 0.7 per cent higher at $1.56.

Heavyweight miners weighed on the market, led by Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) down 2.9 per cent to $21.19. Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) fell 1.2 per cent to $117.50 and BHP (ASX:BHP) closed 0.5 per cent lower at $51.68.

In broker moves, Morningstar cut Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) rating to a sell from a hold. Shares closed 3.4 per cent lower at $59.21.

Elsewhere, Telstra (ASX:TLS) was on watch 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 closed 0.3 per cent higher at $4.02.

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.1 per cent or 7 points higher at 7,485.

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) reported its second-highest quarter for the three months ending March 31. The retirement village operator recorded 279 sales, compared to 275 sales in the prior year period. It said that despite the 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 closed 1.3 per cent higher at $10.72.

Lake Resources (ASX:LKE) 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 said it intends to use a direct extraction technology for the production of sustainable, high purity lithium. Shares closed 7.3 per cent higher at $2.00.

Ventia (ASX:VNT) 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 holds an initial 15-year term with two 10-year extension options and is expected to generate around $450 million in revenue for Ventia. Shares closed 0.8 per cent higher at $2.63.

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 closed 1.2 per cent higher at $20.73.

PointsBet’s (ASX:PBH) subsidiary PointsBet Canada 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 2.5 per cent lower at $3.17.

Telix Pharmaceuticals (ASX:TLX) entered into a licence agreement with Eli Lilly, which grants Telix rights to develop and commercialise radiolabelled forms of Lilly’s olaratumab antibody for the diagnosis and treatment of cancers. Shares closed 2.7 per cent higher at $4.53.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a fall of 133 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a fall of 23 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a fall of 84 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 4 points when the market next opens.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Financials, up 0.8 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Information Technology, down 0.9 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was GrainCorp (ASX:GNC), closing 6.8 per cent higher at $9.81. It was followed by shares in Perseus Mining (ASX:PRU) and Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was AVZ Minerals (ASX:AVZ), closing 5.8 per cent lower at $1.05. It was followed by shares in The A2 Milk Company (ASX:A2M) and PolyNovo (ASX:PNV).

Asian markets

Japan's Nikkei has lost 0.7 per cent.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng has lost 2.7 per cent.
China's Shanghai Composite has lost 2.1 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1943.01 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.
Light crude is trading $1.62 lower at US$91.37 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.38 US cents. 

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