ASX ends in red; BHP, Rio, Pilbara lead losses

Highlights

  • The ASX200 ended lower for the third session, falling 0.12% to 7,502.10.
  • Technology firm Pro Medicus topped the gainers’ chart with over 16% gain.
  • Asian markets traded mostly higher, undermining weak cues from Wall Street.
  • In the crypto space, Bitcoin, Ether, Cardano and others extended fall on Wednesday as investors resorted to profit booking.

Australian shares ended their choppy session lower for the third day as mixed corporate earnings and rising COVID-19 cases kept investors jittery. Index heavyweights BHP, Woodside Petroleum, Sims, Netwealth Group and CSL witnessed sell-off after reporting earnings results.    

The ASX200 dropped 8.90 points or 0.12% to close at 7,502.10. During the day’s trade, the index declined as much as 0.5% to hit an intraday low of 7,511. In the choppy trade, the stock rose up to 0.3% to hit a high of 7,532.90.    

Among individual stocks, technology firm Pro Medicus (ASX: PME) rallied over 16% to emerge as the top gainer among the ASX pack. The stock rallied after the imaging tech company posted strong earnings for the 2021 financial year.

Some of the other notable gainers were oil producer Beach Energy (ASX: BPT), Domino’s Pizza (ASX: DMP), real estate tech firm Domain Holdings Australia (ASX: DHG) and healthcare firm Polynovo (ASX:PNV).

On the flip side, global mining major BHP Group (ASX: BHP) topped the losers’ list, falling nearly 7%. Investors gave a thumbs down to the stock after it announced to sell its petroleum business to Woodside Petroleum to create a new, bigger petroleum entity. Some of the other top laggards were financial firm Netwealth Group (ASX:NWL), metal recycling firm Sims (ASX:SGM), automotive part manufacturer Bapcor (ASX: BAP) and gold miner Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS).

Here’s how the sectoral indices performed today:

Image source: © Stbernardstudio   | Megapixl.com

The equity market witnessed broad-based buying as eight of the 11 sectoral indices ended in the green. The A-REIT sector gained the most and settled with 1.8% gain, followed by utilities, which rose over 1.7%. Among others, telecom and industrial sector also closed with over 1% gain each.  Financial, information technology and consumer staples indices also saw surge in buying.

Bucking the trend, the material sector emerged as the worst performer, falling 2.9%. Among others, health care and energy index also ended lower.

Utility stocks saw surge in buying today, with index heavyweights APA Group (ASX: APA), Origin Energy (ASX: ORG), AusNet Services (ASX: AST) and AGL Energy (ASX: AGL) rising the most.

In the banking space, all big four lenders - Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ), National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) – ended higher.  

In the material space, index heavyweight BHP Group (ASX: BHP) was the worst performer, followed by Rio Tinto Group (ASX: RIO), Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) and Pilbara Minerals (ASX: PLS), among others.

Meanwhile, gold stocks witnessed surge in buying, owing to a rise in the price of the yellow metal. Spot gold prices rose 0.3% to US$1,790 mark, as weak macro data allayed some concerns of an early tapering by the Federal Reserve. The sectoral leaders – Silver Lake Resources (ASX:SLR), Evolution Mining (ASX: EVN), Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM), Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) ended higher.  

Stocks in news

The share price of buy now, pay later firm Sezzle (ASX: SZL) dropped 5% to AU$6.65, paring its previous session gain of 15%.

Shares of BHP Group (ASX: BHP) declined as much as 9.4% to hit an intraday low of AU$68.69 on decision to exit petroleum business.

Shares of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) climbed nearly 0.9% to AU$28.67 after the bank issued the Pillar 3 capital update.

Oil and gas major Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) shares dropped as much as 4.4% to AU$19.85 despite reporting strong earnings and interim dividend.

Shares of Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) rose 1.6% to touch an intraday high of AU$100.57 after the lender launched its new buy now, pay later product StepPay.

Shares of Domino’s Pizza (ASX: DMP) jumped 6.9% to hit fresh 52-week high of AU$135.73 on strong earnings.

The share price of Silver Lake Resources (ASX: SLR) rose as much as 3% to AU$1.36 after the gold miner unveiled its earnings report.

Australian biotechnology firm CSL Ltd (ASX: CSL) dropped 2.1% to AU$291.63 on weaker earnings outlook. The healthcare company expects a weaker performance in the 2022 financial year due to margin easing as a result of increased plasma costs.

Shares of Nearmap (ASX: NEA) gained 4.8% to AU$2.16 after the aerial imagery technology firm released earnings report for FY21.

Shares of Tabcorp Holdings (ASX:TAH) fell nearly 0.9% to AU$4.81 after the firm released its earnings report for financial year ended June 30, 2021. The Group revenue rose 8.8%, while EBITDA was up 11.3% versus the last corresponding period.

Asian markets trade higher

Snapping the two-session losing streak, Asian markets were trading higher on Wednesday, undermining weak cues from Wall Street which declined overnight. The concerns about turmoil in Afghanistan and rising COVID-19 cases in the region limited market’s gain.

South Korea’s KOSPI was the top performer in the region, rising 0.95%. It was followed by Straits Times in Singapore, which gained 0.9%. Taiwan’s Weighted Stock Index surged 0.6%, while India’s BSE Sensex rose 0.5% in opening trade.

Moving on from Asia to the US now, Wall Street ended lower in overnight trade as investors scaled down their risk appetite. The Dow Jones dropped 0.8%, the S&P 500 fell 0.7%, and the NASDAQ tumbled 0.9%.

Bitcoin, Ether, Cardano extend fall

All major cryptocurrencies extended fall for the second day on Wednesday, with popular coins such as Bitcoin, Ether and XRP floating in the red. Traders seemed to have taken a pause after recent rally and resorted to profit booking.

Bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation, dropped 3% to around US$45,000 levels. In the past 24 hours, the most popular currency moved in a range of US$44K to US$47K levels.   

Ether, the world’s second largest crypto, also declined nearly 5% to trade around US$3,000 mark. The coin had witnessed a strong rally last week after the Ethereum blockchain network upgraded its software with a new update, called as the London hard fork.       

In a similar trend, little-known digital coin Cardano fell 5% to US$2. This coin has become the third-largest virtual currency in the world as network developers look to ride the boom in decentralised finance.

Among other cryptos, Dogecoin, XRP, Stellar, Uniswap and Litecoin also traded lower.  

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