- The ASX 200 was down 0.2% by mid-session.
- Six of 11 sectors traded lower, led by utilities and financials.
- Material stocks rebounded despite a further fall in iron ore prices.
- Champion Iron, Nufarm, Lynas Rare Earths, Whitehaven Coal topped the gainers’ chart.
- NSW reported 1,022 new local coronavirus cases and ten deaths in the past 24 hours.
Australian shares reversed most of the early losses by mid-session, led by buying in energy and material stocks. Market sentiment also received a boost after data showed that falling COVID-19 cases in NSW coupled with Victoria’s plan for easing curbs elevated consumer sentiment last week. However, a sell-off in global markets on China worries as well as the US Federal Reserve meeting kept investors on edge.
The benchmark ASX 200 index was trading 12.30 points or 0.17% lower at 7,236, by lunch. The index opened lower for the third straight session today, tracking weak cues from Wall Street which finished lower overnight ahead of the highly anticipated Federal Reserve meeting. The Dow Jones plunged 1.78%, while the S&P 500 dipped 1.70%. The NASDAQ Composite ended the session 2.19% lower.
The market witnessed cautious trading ahead of the two-day US Fed meeting which is slated to start today. The central bank officials will release monetary policy statement on Wednesday, which will bring more clarity on the timing of tapering of its US$120 billion monthly bond buying program. Market experts expect the rollback of economic stimulus to begin in November or December.
Moving on to the sectoral front, six of the 11 indices were trading in the red zone. The materials and energy sectors were among the top gainers, paring previous session losses, despite a fall in commodity prices. The price of iron ore slipped below US$100 for the first time in 14 months as worries about the anticipated default of Chinese property giant Evergrande added downward pressure on the commodity. The price fell 8.8% to US$92.98 per tonne overnight.
Meanwhile, the utilities sector was the worst performer with a 1.5% loss, followed by financials, which dropped over 1%.
On the COVID-19 front, NSW reported 1,022 new local coronavirus cases and ten deaths in the past 24 hours. The tally of Victoria cases rose to 603, while it also reported one death.
Top gainers and losers
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The top loser on the ASX was asset management firm Janus Henderson Group (ASX: JHG), which dropped 4.2%. Some of the other notable losers were buy now, pay later firm ZIP Co (ASX:Z1P), natural gas and energy business APA Group (ASX: APA), fintech Group Netwealth (ASX: NWL) and investment manager Magellan Financial (ASX: MFG).
Meanwhile, iron ore explorer Champion Iron (ASX: CIA) topped the gainers’ chart by rising 5.3%. The stock was the worst performer on Monday, falling nearly 9% due to fall in iron ore price. Some of the other top performers were agro firm Nufarm (ASX:NUF), resource company Lynas Rare Earths (ASX: LYC), coal miner Whitehaven Coal (ASX: WHC) and gold miner Chalice Mining (ASX:CHN).
Shares in news
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Shares of gas pipeline business APA Group (ASX: APA) slipped 3.5% after the company proposed a AU$9.9 billion bid to acquire AusNet services. Meanwhile, shares of AusNet Services entered a trading halt today, pending an announcement from the company.
Shares of Australian health care fund NIB Holdings (ASX: NHF) fell nearly 1% even after receiving the regulatory nod to form a buying group with insurer Honeysuckle Health. Consumer watchdog Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has allowed Honeysuckle Health and NIB to form a health service buying group.
Shares of engineering-led construction group CIMIC (ASX: CIM) dropped nearly 2% despite securing a contract. The group’s CPB Contractor has been selected as the partner for the delivery of Inland Rail’s southern civil works program.
Shares of Woolworths (ASX: WOW) traded marginally lower amid reports that the retailer is mulling the sale of an Australian dollar bond linked to its sustainability program with six- and 10-year maturities.
Toll road operator Atlas Arteria (ASX: ALX) has declared a AU$15.5 per share unfranked dividend for the first six months of the year. Following the announcement, shares of Atlas rose over 1%.
Shares of RPMGlobal Holdings (ASX: RUL) dropped 2.5% following an acquisition news. The mining software solutions provider has signed a deal to acquire 100% stake in Perth-based Blueprint Environmental Strategies.
Mining services provider Highfield Resources (ASX: HFR) has inked a purchase contract for important components of its Muga mine plant. In an ASX update, the company said it has signed a purchase contract with Weir Minerals to finalise the pre-construction activities at the flagship mine.