- Australian benchmark index, the ASX 200, declined as much as 0.4% by mid-session on Friday.
- Eight of the 11 sectors were trading in red, while energy sectors emerged as the top performer.
- Centuria Industrial REIT, Cochlear, Atlas Arteria, Perseus Mining and Silver Lake topped losers’ chart.
- Senex Energy dropped after signing a gas sales agreement with 29Metals’ Capricorn Copper mine.
- NSW reported 1,043 COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths in the past 24 hours.
Australian shares were trading in red by the afternoon, amid a sell-off in realty, health care, and material stocks. Lingering concerns about Chinese developer Evergrande's ability to pay its debts as well as a fresh rise in COVID-19 cases in Victoria kept investors sidelined. However, strong gains in energy stocks, owing to higher crude prices, as well as firm global cues helped the market to cap losses.
Benchmark index, the ASX 200, was trading 15.50 points or 0.21% lower at 7,354.70, by the lunchtime. The index opened flat today and slipped in negative in early deals to decline as much as 0.4% during the trade so far.
The market failed to capitalise on strong cues from Wall Street, which extended rally for the second day as investors cheered the Federal Reserve’s bullish economic outlook. The S&P 500 jumped 1.2%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.5%. The NASDAQ Composite ended 1% higher.
Moving on to the sectoral front, eight of the 11 indices were trading in the red zone. The A-REIT was the worst performer with a 1.4% loss, followed by a 0.8% fall in the health care sector. Among others, material, consumer stapled, consumer discretionary, telecom and industrial also reeled under selling pressure.
On the flip side, the energy sector gained over 1% following a rise in crude prices. It was followed by financial and utilities which also edged higher with a modest gain.
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On the COVID-19 front, NSW reported 1,043 new local coronavirus cases and 11 deaths in the past 24 hours. Victoria’s daily case tally stood at 733, dropping marginally after hitting record-high of 766 new local infections on Thursday.
Top gainers and losers
The top loser on the ASX pack was Australia-based real estate investment trust Centuria Industrial REIT (ASX:CIP) with a 6% loss. Some of the other worst performers were healthcare group Cochlear (ASX: COH), toll road operator Atlas Arteria (ASX: ALX), and gold miners Perseus Mining (ASX:PRU) and Silver Lake Resources (ASX: SLR).
On the gaining side, Australian stock transfer company Computershare (ASX:CPU) topped the gainers’ chart by rising 4.5%. Some of the other top gainers were English bank Virgin Money UK (ASX:VUK), retailer Premier Investment (ASX:PMV), energy giant Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL) and infection prevention company Nanosonics (ASX: NAN).
Shares in news
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Energy firm Senex Energy (ASX:SXY) traded marginally lower after signing a new gas sales agreement with 29Metals’ Capricorn Copper mine. The company will supply around 2.5 petajoules of natural gas over three years to the Capricorn Copper mine, owned by Australian resources company, 29Metals (ASX: 29M).
Sigma Healthcare (ASX:SIG) shares were down nearly 1% following the update about the new CEO. The company has appointed Vikesh Ramsunder as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the company.
State Gas (ASX:GAS) fell 1.4% after completing an AU$8-million placement at discount. The offer received strong interest and was supported by Australian institutional and sophisticated investors in the energy sector, the company said in an ASX update.
Real estate investment trust APN Industria REIT (ASX:ADI) dropped nearly 7% following updates on fund raising. The company said it had successfully completed institutional placement and entitlement offer components of the capital raise plan.
Vita Group’s (ASX: VTG) shares dropped over 1% on signing a deal to sell its Retail Information
and Communication Technology (ICT) business to Telstra (ASX: TLS), subject to requisite approval. The proposed transaction includes the sale of all of Vita’s Telstra-branded retail stores and the Sprout business, for cash consideration of AU$110 million.
Shares of Kairos Minerals (ASX: KAI) traded 7% higher after it updated about new targets at its 100%-owned Mt York Project in Western Australia. The company has completed a first-stage geochemistry sampling program at the Mt York Project and identified several new high-priority targets for drill testing.
Rex Minerals (ASX: REX) shares traded flat after it qualified to trade on the OTCQB Venture Market in the United States. The OTCQB is the mid-tier OTC equity market which lists primarily early-stage and developing companies in the US.
Iron ore producer Fe Ltd (ASX: FEL) shares traded 13% lower despite receiving commitments to raise AU$5 million through placements. The miner will issue 100,000,000 ordinary shares (Placement Shares) to sophisticated investors at 5 cents per share.
Real estate investment firm Axiom Properties (ASX:AXI) jumped 12.5% on signing an agreement to sell its Butler Central Homemaker Centre in Perth to The Lester Group, a Western Australian firm. The company has granted a period of 45 days for due diligence.