ASX ends 0.3% higher; Pilbara Minerals, Appen, Nearmap lead gain

Highlights 

  • The ASX200 closed 0.35% higher at 7,487.30, led by buying in tech, realty and consumer discretionary stocks.
  • Mining firm Pilbara Minerals topped the gainer list, while insurance company NIB Holdings emerged as the top loser.
  • Barring consumer staples, energy and industrial, all indices closed in green.
  • Asian markets were trading higher ahead of a key update on the US monetary policy.
  • In crypto space, Bitcoin surged over US$50K levels, while Ether and Cardano also traded higher.

Australian shares closed higher on Monday, snapping five-session losing streak, led by buying across tech, realty and consumer discretionary space. The market sentiment was lifted by firm cues from Wall Street which rose sharply on Friday amid waning fear of rollback of monetary stimulus by the US Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, coronavirus concerns showed no sign of abating as 818 new COVID-19 infections were recorded in New South Wales (NSW) on Monday.

The ASX200  closed 26.40 points or 0.35% higher at 7,487.30. Earlier today, the index opened higher and gained as much as 0.5% to hit an intraday high of 7,496.30.        

Among the individual stocks, mining firm Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) was the top gainer, rising 10.4%. Some of other top performers were coal miner Whitehaven Coal (ASX: WHC), tech firm Appen (ASX:APX), real estate firm Charter Hall (ASX: CHC), and aerial imagery firm Nearmap (ASX: NEA)

Meanwhile, health insurance company NIB Holdings (ASX: NHF) topped the loser chart with 11% loss. Some of the worst performers were e-retailer Redbubble (ASX: RBL), childhood education provider G8 Education (ASX: GEM), health care firm Polynovo (ASX:PNV) and telecom firm TPG Telecom (ASX:TPM).

Here’s how the sectoral indices performed today: 

Source: © Robynmac    | Megapixl.com

The equity market witnessed a surge in buying activity as eight of the 11 sectoral indices ended higher. The information technology sector emerged as the top performer with 1.7% gain, tracking gains in US counterpart, the NASDAQ Composite. It was followed by A-REIT, consumer discretionary, material, financial, utility and health care stocks, which settled with modest gain.

Meanwhile, consumer staples sector emerged as the worst performer, falling 0.5%. Energy and industrial sectors also ended with marginal losses.

In the tech sector, most of the stocks ended in the green zone. Buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay (ASX:APT), aerial mapping firm Nearmap (ASX:NEA), tech firm Appen (ASX:APX), and network operator Megaport (ASX:MP1) were among top gainers.

In the material space, index heavyweight BHP Group (ASX: BHP), Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS), Newcrest Mining (ASX: NCM), South32 (ASX:S32), BlueScope Steel (ASX: BSL) and OZ Minerals (ASX: OZL) were among top gainers.  

In the banking sector three of big four lenders - Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) - closed higher. Meanwhile, National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) ended lower.

Shares in news

Starpharma (ASX:SPL) shares rose 6.5% to AU$1.30 following an ASX update. The Company has published new data that demonstrated the protective efficacy of VIRALEZE antiviral nasal spray against the SARS-CoV-2 challenge in vivo in a humanised mouse model of coronavirus infection.

The share price of ASX-listed resources firm TerraCom (ASX:TER) dropped over 3%. The company announced that the life of the Blair Athol Mine (BA) has been extended to approximately 10 years. The Company holds a considerable portfolio of operating assets in Australia and South Africa. The extension of the Blair Athol Mine (BA) lifeline will provide 14 years of operation under TerraCom.

Shares of mining equipment design and manufacturer Austin Engineering (ASX:ANG) rose over 5% to 23 Australian cents on completing global debt refinance. The company has inked a new global financing arrangement with HSBC Bank Australia, which helped the company replace a working capital facility with Export Finance Australia and local Chilean debt facilities. The new facilities have improved both the size and the growing debt capacity from AU$25 million to AU$35 million.

Australian petroleum company Ampol (ASX: ALD) ended lower on the bid to acquire New Zealand’s Z Energy. The energy firm has proposed an AU$2.5-billion takeover offer to create the biggest fuel retail company across the Tasman.

Telecommunications service provider Chorus (ASX: CNU) fell as its earnings failed to impress investors. The company’s net profit after tax dropped to NZ$47 million during the 2021 financial year, from NZ$52 million in the last fiscal, despite a rise in active fibre connections during the year.

Asian markets trade higher

Asian markets were trading higher on Monday, snapping last week’s sharp fall, ahead of a key update on the US monetary policy. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will deliver a speech at Jackson Hole this week, which is expected to bring more clarity on the reduction of monetary stimulus. The US Fed official in its last meeting proposed to start slowing asset purchases this year.

Taiwan’s Weighted Stock Index gained the most by rising 2.6%, followed by Japan’s Nikkei, which gained 1.9%. Hang Seng, the benchmark index of Hong Kong, rallied 1.8%, while South Korea’s KOSPI traded 1.5% higher.

In a similar trend, Jakarta Stock Exchange in Indonesia climbed 0.9%, while China’s Shanghai Composite rose 1%. India’s BSE Sensex traded 0.2% higher in opening deals.

Moving on from Asia to the US now, Wall Street ended higher over the weekend on waning concerns over the US Federal Reserve’s tapering plans amid resurgence of the Delta variant. The rise in coronavirus Delta cases appears to have dampened the near-term economic outlook, delaying Federal Reserve’s plans to start shifting monetary policy back to normal. The Dow Jones ended 0.65% higher on Friday, while the S&P 500 rose 0.8%. The tech-savvy NASDAQ Composite rallied 1.2%.

Bitcoin tops US$50K mark; Ether, Cardano trade higher

The cryptocurrency market was trading higher during Asian trading hours on Monday, with major coin Bitcoin surging over US$50K levels. The other tokens such as Ether and Cardano also rose amid optimism about growing demand from institutional investors.

Adding to it, investors were also buoyed by American payment solution company PayPal’s decision to extend its crypto service to the UK. The company has decided to roll out its crypto offering outside the US, allowing its users to buy, sell and hold four different cryptocurrencies on its platform. The company’s UK customers will be able to transact in Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash. The process will begin this week and should be available to all eligible customers within the next few weeks.

Cheering the news, the price of Bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation, rose 2.5% to trade around US$50,300. 

Ether, the world’s second-largest crypto, also rose 3% to around US$3,400 mark amid a surge in volume trade. 

The price of Cardano, the third-largest virtual currency in the world, jumped over 10% to US$2.78. Among others, Dogecoin, Stellar, Uniswap and Litecoin also witnessed a surge in buying activity.     

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