ASX falls 0.6% on COVID-19 woes; A2 Milk jumps 12% on takeover buzz

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ASX falls 0.6% on COVID-19 woes; A2 Milk jumps 12% on takeover buzz

 ASX falls 0.6% on COVID-19 woes; A2 Milk jumps 12% on takeover buzz
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  • Australian benchmark index, the ASX200, fell 46.40 points or 0.61% to close at 7,582.50.
  • The market was dragged down by a sharp sell-off in energy and financial stocks.
  • Beach Energy, Lendlease, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank fall after reporting earnings.
  • A2 Milk topped the gainers’ list amid the report of the takeover bid by global food giant, Nestle.
  • Bitcoin, Ether, Dogecoin trade higher on Monday. 

Australian shares ended lower on Monday as mixed corporate earnings and rising COVID-19 cases kept investors sidelined. Index heavyweights Beach Energy, Lendlease, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank witnessed sell-off after reporting earnings results.

The ASX200 fell 46.40 points or 0.61% to close at 7,582.50, led by a decline in blue-chip energy and bank stocks.

A record rise in the daily case tally in NSW and the fear of lockdown extension in Melbourne spooked market sentiment. In the past 24 hours, NSW recorded 478 new locally acquired infections and seven deaths, while Victoria reported 22 cases. The persistent rise in daily cases and lockdown measures are likely to derail Australia’s economic recovery.

Among individual stocks, infant formula company A2 Milk (ASX:A2M) emerged as the top gainer, closing 12.6% higher on takeover buzz. As per reports, global food giant Nestle is eying to acquire the specialty dairy firm.

Some of the other notable gainers were (ASX: CAR), property trust GPT Group (ASX:GPT) and electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi (ASX: JBH).

On the losing side, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (ASX: BEN) topped the chart with a 9.5% loss. Some of the other losers include oil producer Beach Energy (ASX: BPT), real estate firm Lendlease Group (ASX:LLC) and cloud-based wagering platform PointsBet Holdings (ASX:PBH).

Here’s how the sectoral indices performed today

The equity market witnessed mixed trading as six of the 11 sectoral indices ended in green. The energy sector declined the most and settled with a 3% loss, followed by financial, which fell over 1%. Among others, material and utilities also closed in negative terrain.

Bucking the trend, the consumer staples sector emerged as the top performer by rising 1.2%. Some of the other notable gainers were industrial, tech, A-REIT, telecom and health care.

In the banking space, three of the big four lenders - Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) - ended lower. National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) extended the rally on Monday after the lender last week reported 10.3% growth in cash profit at AU$1.70 billion for the third quarter ended 30 June 2021.

In the material space, index heavyweights Rio Tinto Group (RIO), Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) and Pilbara Minerals (ASX: PLS) ended lower. The sell-off in mining stocks was attributed to a fall in iron ore prices on concerns over steel output controls in China and signs of economic slowdown in the world's top metal consumer. Bucking the trend, BHP Group (ASX: BHP) shares rose on discussions with Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL) to sell its petroleum business.

Meanwhile, gold stocks witnessed a surge in buying, owing to a rise in the price of yellow metal. Gold prices traded near a one-week high of the US$1,780 mark, as a plunge in US consumer sentiment allayed some concerns of an early tapering by the Federal Reserve. The sectoral leaders Silver Lake Resources (ASX:SLR), Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST), Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM), Ora Banda Mining (ASX:OBM) and Geopacific Resources (ASX:GPR), were among top gainers.

Shares in news

Shares of infant formula company A2 Milk (ASX:A2M) rallied over 12% amid reports that global food giant Nestle is eying to acquire the specialty dairy firm. As per reports, the Swiss milk product giant is taking a close look at the company, but industry insiders do not expect a deal before A2 Milk’s annual results.

Shares of lithium explorer Firefinch (ASX:FFX) rose nearly 10% following an ASX update. The company stated it had entered legal agreements to progress a joint venture with a unit of Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co at the Goulamina lithium project in southern Mali. It added the first production from Goulamina would be accelerated and was expected in 2023.

Shares of property trust GPT Group (ASX:GPT) jumped as much as 4% following earnings updates. The net profit after tax attributable for the half year rose 246% to AU$760.5 million, compared to the same period last year. The total revenue climbed 180% to AU$989.1 million.

Shares of LendLease Group (ASX:LLC) fell as much as 7.4% in line with the benchmark index. The construction and property firm said it would book AU$130 million to AU$170 million pre-tax restructuring charge in the first six months of FY22.

Shares of Austal (ASX:ASB) rose as much as 2.71% after the defense shipbuilder secured a deal. The company has got US Navy contract to repair and maintain all Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) in Mayport, Florida.

The share price of Metcash (ASX:MTS) gained 3% after the food and staples retailer announced the successful completion of an off-market buyback of AU$200 million shares. It has also elected to buyback AU$25 million more than the indicative AU$175 million announced on 28 June 2021.

Shares of BHP Group (ASX: BHP) gained 1.8% amid the reports that Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL) was in talks to acquire its petroleum business.

Shares of Beach Energy (ASX: BPT) declined as much as 9% after the oil producer reported a fall in revenue and profit for the financial year 2021. The full-year net profit dropped 37% to AU$316.5 million, while the revenue fell 10% to AU$1.56 billion.

Shares of electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi (ASX: JBH) gained 3.2% after the company reported robust earnings for the financial year ended 30 June 2021. For FY21, the net profit rose 67.4% to AU$506.1 million, while total sales were up 12.6% at AU$8.92 billion. The company’s board also declared a final dividend of 107 cents per share fully franked, bringing the total dividend for FY21 to 287 cents apiece.

Oil and Gas explorer Strike Energy (ASX:STX) has entered into a binding share sale and purchase agreement, for its interest in Cooper Basin permit PEL96 (Klebb & Jaws). The agreement is with Greenflame Energy Pty Ltd. for the sale of 100% of issued share capital in STX subsidiary, Strike Energy, holder of the copper basin interest.

Asian shares bleed in red, China bucks trend

Asian markets started the week on a cautious note ahead of a slew of Chinese data that could confirm a slowdown in the Asian largest economy. The persistent concerns over the rising Delta variant in the region as well as uncertainty about the possible geopolitical implications of the sudden collapse of the Afghan government also left investors jittery.

Japan’s Nikkei was the worst performer in the region, falling 1.7%. Japan was followed by South Korea’s KOSPI, which dropped 1.2%.

In a similar trend, Taiwan’s Weighted Stock Index slipped over 1%, while Hong Kong’s Hang tumbled 0.75%. Singapore’s Straits Times was down 0.4%, while Jakarta Stock Exchange in Indonesia fell 1%.

Bucking the trend, India’s BSE Sensex gained 0.1% in the opening trade, while China’s Shanghai Composite traded 0.4% higher.

Meanwhile, Wall Street ended higher over the weekend even as a survey showed a shock slump in US consumer sentiment amid Delta fears. The Dow Jones rose 0.04%, while the S&P 500 gained 0.16%. The NASDAQ Composite added 0.04%. 

Bitcoin, Ether, Dogecoin edge higher

Cryptocurrencies edged higher during the Asian trading hours on Monday, with major coins such as Bitcoin, Ether and XRP trading in green. In a fresh development, American movie theatre chain AMC Entertainment is mulling to roll out the technology to accept Bitcoin for tickets and concessions by the end of the year. With this, AMC will join the league of larger major players, such as Microsoft, PayPal, Etsy and Starbucks which accept digital payments.

Bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation, was up 2% at around US$47,500 levels. In the past 24 hours, the most popular currency traded in the range of US$45,500 and US$48,000 levels, with net inflows of US$34.9 billion.

Ether, the world’s second-largest crypto, also rose over 1% to trade around the US$3,300 mark. The coin has witnessed a strong rally in the recent past after the Ethereum blockchain network updated its software, called the London hard fork.     

In a similar fashion, other digital currencies such as Dogecoin, XRP and Uniswap were also trading higher.


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