- The Australian benchmark ASX 200 index hit a new record high 7512.1 in early trade.
- The market witnessed subdued trade on weak global cues and selling across material and energy stocks.
- New South Wales recorded 262 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths in the past 24 hours.
- Tech firm Nuix topped the gainers’ list, while Worley dropped the most.
- Six of the 11 sectors traded in the green, led by consumer discretionary and IT.
Australian shares edged higher in choppy trade by afternoon, as gains in bank and tech stocks offset losses in mining and energy companies. Caution prevailed in the market amid renewed concerns that the US central bank will move earlier than expected to taper its bond purchases and consider interest rate hike. A top US Federal Reserve official has indicated a taper announcement likely as early as next month and rate hike by 2023.
The benchmark index, ASX 200, is currently trading higher by just 3.60 points at 7,507. The index touched a new record high of 7512.1 in early trade. The index opened marginally lower today, tracking weak cues from Wall Street.
In overnight trade, Wall Street ended lower amid broad selling on fears about tapering of bond purchases and weak job data. Richard Clarida, the Vice-Chairman of the Federal Reserve, favoured an early rollback of the COVID-era monetary stimulus because of rising inflation. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones ended lower, while the NASDAQ Composite closed flat. Bucking the trend, shares of buzzy stock-trading app Robinhood witnessed a wild rally by surging over 80% and triggering multiple trading halts on major exchanges. The rally in the stock, which recently got listed, was triggered by multi-million-dollar investment from Wall Street's renowned tech investor Cathie Wood.
Back home, investor sentiment has also been marred by rising coronavirus cases in Greater Sydney and Queensland as lockdown measures fail to stop the community spread of the highly infectious delta variant of the COVID-19. In the past 24 hours, New South Wales has recorded 262 new COVID-19 cases and five deaths. Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said the state’s Hunter and Upper Hunter regions would be placed into a COVID-19 lockdown from 5:00pm today in the wake of spurt in cases in the area.
Moving on to the sectoral front, six of the eleven sectors were trading in the green zone. Consumer discretionary topped the chart with 0.6% gain, followed by IT, which rose 0.3%. Telecom and healthcare indices also traded marginally higher.
Meanwhile, energy was the worst performer, falling over 1.5%. Material, utilities, industrial and consumer staple sectors also witnessed selling pressure.
Top gainers and losers
Image Source: © Ptoone | Megapixl.com
Homegrown technology firm Nuix (ASX:NXL) topped the gainers’ list, having risen 4.3% during the mid-session. Some of other top performers were real estate firm Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield (ASX:URW), Domino’s Pizza Enterprises (ASX: DMP), online retailer Kogan (ASX:KGN) and online automotive advertiser Carsales.com (ASX: CAR).
On the flip side, Australian professional services company Worley (ASX: WOR) was the top laggard on the ASX by falling nearly 3%. Some of the other notable losers were online marketplace Redbubble (ASX: RBL), gold miner Ramelius Resources (ASX:RMS), payment solutions provider EML Payments (ASX: EML) and energy retailer Origin Energy (ASX:ORG).
Shares in news
Shares of furniture retailer Nick Scali (ASX: NCK) rose over 3% as it declared dividend after reporting robust earnings. The company posted a 100 per cent rise in underlying net profit after tax to AU$84.2 million for the financial year 2021, while sales revenue grew 42% to AU$373 million. Boosted by strong earnings, the retailer declared a final dividend of 25 cents a share.
Shares of Afterpay (ASX: APT) dropped over 1% in early deals amid report that Westpac (ASX: WBC) may review its relationship with the buy now, pay later (BNPL) major. The bank will examine its alliance with the payment solutions company after its AU$39 billion deal with the US fintech Square. Meanwhile, Westpac shares were trading marginally higher.
The share price of Centuria Industrial REIT (ASX: CIP) dropped nearly 1% despite reporting strong earnings. Its profit rose multiple times during the 2021 financial year, but its distributions remained lower.
Shares of Resolute Mining (ASX: RSG) climbed over 3.5% on agreement to sell the Bibiani Gold Mine in Ghana to Asante Gold Corporation for US$90 million.
Pinnacle Investments (ASX: PNI) shares rose 8% to hit a record high after its profit managed to smash estimates. The net profit jumped 108% to AU$67 million in the financial year 2021. It has also declared a fully franked final dividend per share of 17 cents, up 100% from FY20 final dividend of 8.5 cents.
NickelX (ASX:NKL) has updated that it commenced its maiden diamond drilling program at the Fire Dragon Nickel-Copper Target within the Biranup Project, located in the world class Albany Fraser Orogen. The maiden Phase 1 diamond drilling program will test for massive sulphides primarily at Fire Dragon. As per the company release, the drilling program is supported by a drilling grant of AU$150,000 received from the Western Australia Government.
Australian kaolin producer and silica sand exploration company, Suvo Strategic Minerals (ASX:SUV) has entered into an agreement with Rezel Catalysts Corporation. Rezel was co-founded in 2010 by Dr Zhou Runsheng, the technology holder and Shenghe Resources Holdings, the second largest supplier of rare earths globally. As per the agreement, both the two parties will work together to develop tailor-made premium kaolin products and technical solutions.