- The S&P/ASX200 opened lower and declined as much as 1.1% to hit a low of 7,205.
- The index was down just 0.12% by the lunchtime, supported by gains in health care and tech stocks.
- Seven of 11 sectors were floating in red, while energy and materials slumped the most.
- South Australia announced lockdown, while Victoria extended its curb by another seven days.
- Oil and gas producer Oil Search was the top gainer on the ASX on proposed merger with rival Santos.
Australian shares were trading marginally lower by the afternoon, reversing opening losses, supported by buying across healthcare and tech stocks. However, selling in energy, mining, and utility stocks was dragging the share market lower. Weak global cues and an alarming COVID-19 surge in the country also dented market sentiment.
The S&P/ASX200 was trading lower by 9.10 points or 0.12% to 7,277 by the lunchtime. Early today, the index opened lower, tracking panic selling on Wall Street and the global equities market, and declined as much as 1.1% to hit a low of 7,205.
Concerns about the COVID-19 situation in the country continued to weigh on the market. In the last 24 hours, NSW reported 78 new locally acquired cases, while Victoria recorded 13 new COVID-19 cases, including four announced Monday. To contain the spread of the virus, the government has decided to impose a lockdown in South Australia, while Victoria has extended its restrictions by seven days.
Moving on to the sectoral front, seven of the 11 sectors were bleeding in red, led by energy and material stocks. The energy sector was the worst performer with a 1.5% loss, followed by material which dropped over 1%. In addition, Telecom, financial, industrial and materials were trading lower over 1% each.
Bucking the trend, health care stocks witnessed a surge in buying for the second day, rising 0.7%. IT sector was also up 0.4%.
Top gainers and losers
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Oil and gas producer Oil Search (ASX: OSH) was the top percentage gainer on the ASX pack, rising 4.6% on the proposed merger with rival Santos.
Some of the other notable gainers were fintech firm ZIP Co (ASX:Z1P), health care player Mesoblast. (ASX:MSB), corporate bookmaker PointsBet Holdings (ASX:PBH) and gold miner Silver Lake Resources (ASX:SLR).
On the flip side, real estate player Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX:URW) was the top loser on the ASX, falling 5.75%.
Some of the other worst performers include oil and gas major Santos Limited (ASX:STO), miner Nickel Mines Limited (ASX:NIC), English bank Virgin Money UK PLC (ASX:VUK), and energy firm Beach Energy Limited (ASX:BPT).
Shares in news
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Shares of Australia’s largest Buy-Now-Pay-Later (BNPL) player Afterpay (ASX:APT) were down 1.5% at AU$103.25. The fintech major has announced that it would launch a new banking app for its customers in Australia in October.
Shares of iron ore miner BHP Group (ASX: BHP) fell 2.3% after the global resources company released quarterly business updates. The company reported full-year iron ore production near the top end of its forecast range, supported by a record output at two mines in Western Australia.
The share price of corporate bookmaker PointsBet Holdings Limited (ASX:PBH) rose over 1% to AU$11.65 on deal with Cliff Castle Casino Hotel. The company said that its wholly owned subsidiary PointsBet Arizona LLC had entered into an exclusive agreement with Cliff Castle Casino Hotel to pursue online sports betting market access in Arizona.
Shares of AusCann Group Holdings (ASX:AC8) jumped nearly 5% to 11 cents after the company started product registration for dogs. The pharma company has submitted its first module to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Association (APVMA) to start the registration of DermaCann.
Insurance Australia Group (ASX: IAG), the largest general insurance group in the country, saw its shares falling 0.8% to AU$4.79. The insurer has appointed Tim Plant to the newly created role of chief insurance and strategy officer. Plant is expected to join the company before the end of the year.
Shares of software firm Altium Limited (ASX:ALU) extended loss for the second day and fell as much as 5.9% to AU$33.1. The stock is under pressure after the company failed to secure a fresh takeover offer from US peer Autodesk Inc. Autodesk said on Monday it had ended takeover talks with Altium, weeks after the Australian firm rejected its AU$5.05 billion offer.
Real estate firm Dexus (ASX: DXS) shares were down 0.8% to AU$10.16 after the company announced to fund, develop, invest in Atlassian development. The company has entered into binding terms to fund, develop and invest in Atlassian’s new headquarters in Sydney.
Australian Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), Charter Hall Long WALE (ASX: CLW) shares fell 0.6% to AU$4.87 following an update. The company has entered into a lease agreement with Fujifilm for Building C at 56 Edmondstone Road, Bowen Hills, Brisbane. The company is set to release its FY21 results on 9 August 2021.
The share price of Sydney Airport (ASX: SYD) was trading 0.6% lower at AU$7.86 after data showed that its traffic was impacted by lockdown. The only listed airport in Australia saw its domestic passenger numbers falling 56.8% in June, versus the corresponding month in 2019. International passengers dropped 93.8%.
Plumbing parts group Reliance Worldwide shares rose nearly 0.9% to AU$5.25 on plans to acquire copper-based alloy producer LCL Ltd. The company has entered into an agreement with LCL Ltd to buy business for cash of around AU$37 million. The deal is expected to close by 31 August 2021, subject to requisite approvals.
Asian markets open lower on weak global cues
Asian markets were trading lower in opening deals, tracking weak cues from Wall Street. Japan's Nikkei was the worst performer in the region, falling over 0.6%, while China’s Shanghai Composite was also down 0.5%. Seoul’s Kospi also traded lower by 0.3%.
In a similar trend, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 0.25%, while Taiwan’s Weighted Stock Index fell 0.6%.
In the overnight trade, all the three major US markets ended sharply lower as concerns about rising inflation kept investors cautious. The Dow Jones crashed 2.1%, the S&P 500 dropped 1.6%, and the NASDAQ fell 1.1%.