The Australian stock market was trading lower on Wednesday, with benchmark index ASX 200 falling as much as 0.5% by lunch to slip below 7,400 points. The surge in selling across materials, technology, energy, financials, and consumer discretionary stocks dragged the market lower. In the material space, major miners including BHP, Rio Tinto, Fortescue and South32 were trading lower.
Here are top five stocks that dominated the ASX 200 today.
BHP (ASX: BHP)
Shares of the world’s second largest miner BHP Group (ASX: BHP) declined 1.7% to hit a low of AU$52.45 by lunch. The iron ore miner has made a bid to acquire a high-grade nickel project in Canada.
The company’s wholly owned subsidiary, BHP Lonsdale, has proposed to acquire Canadian-based mining company Noront Resources for 55 Canadian cents per share. BHP Lonsda has entered into a definitive support agreement with Noront through its subsidiary BHP Western Mining Resources International (BHP WMR).
Listed on the Toronto stock exchange, Noront is focused on the development of nickel, copper, platinum and palladium deposits as well as chromite deposits located in Ontario.
Rio Tinto (ASX: Rio)
The share price of global miner Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) dropped as much as 1.3% to AU$130.78 after it committed funds for the Jadar lithium project. The Anglo-Australian company has proposed to invest AU$2.4 billion in the Jadar lithium-borates project in Serbia, one of the world’s largest greenfield lithium projects. The deal remains subject to receiving all relevant approvals from concerned authorities.
As per the company, Jadar will produce lithium carbonate, which is used in the manufacturing of batteries for electric vehicles. This would also help Rio become one of the largest sources of lithium supplier in Europe for at least the next 15 years. In addition, Jadar will also produce borates, which are used in solar panels and wind turbines.
Spark Infrastructure Group (ASX: SKI)
Shares of Spark Infrastructure Group (ASX: SKI) rose as much as 6.5% to AU$2.78 on receiving revised takeover offer.
The investment fund said it had received two takeover proposals from Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board (OTPP) and KKR, on behalf of its affiliated infrastructure investment funds. The bids included an initial offer of AU$2.63 per security and a subsequent revised proposal of AU$2.73 per security. The suitors have come back with a third takeover bid at a price of AU$2.95 per security.
Eagers Automotive (ASX: APE)
Shares of automotive retail group Eagers (ASX: APE) surged 5.4% to AU$16.6 on a solid trading update.
The company expects to report underlying operating profit before tax of AU$218.6 million for the six months ended 30 June 2021. The net profit before tax from continuing operations for the first six months of 2021 is expected to be AU$267.4 million. The company said that its profit would be supported by the ongoing benefits of its material cost out program and the ongoing synergies resulting from the company’s transformative merger with Automotive Holdings Group (AHG).
As per the company, the new car market continues to rebound from the COVID-19 crisis with a 28.3% increase compared to the first six months of 2020.
ALS Limited (ASX:ALQ)
Testing services provider ALS Limited (ASX: ALQ) saw its shares rising as much as 3.9% to AU$13.03, its biggest intraday percentage jump since 22 June 2021. The stock rallied after the company announced that it has acquired a 49% stake in Germany-based pharmaceutical testing firm NUVISAN for about 145 million euros.
As per the company, the acquisition will expand its life sciences service offering and footprint in Europe. The deal is part of ALS strategy to focus on growing the life sciences division in strategic food and pharmaceutical geographies and broadening its service offering.