ASX climbs, Tech & energy stocks rally: Aus shares close 0.7% higher

The Australian sharemarket snapped its two-day losing streak and finished in positive territory thanks to a strong session from technology and energy stocks, while gold players and communication services also helped the ASX lift. 

Energy was the best-performing sector with Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) closing 4.1 per cent higher, Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) advancing 5.3 per cent and Santos (ASX:STO) closing 3.3 per cent higher.

Technology sector was the second best with buy-now, pay-later darling Afterpay (ASX:APT) closing 4.8 per cent higher on news that the Bank of Spain has approved Block’s takeover. Elsewhere, Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) rose 1.8 per cent while Xero (ASX:XRO) closed 1.2 per cent higher.

The worst-performing sector was consumer staples, dragged down by Woolworths (ASX:WOW) and Metcash (ASX:MTS) which fell 0.7 and 2.1 per cent respectively, with most other sectors in the green. 

Resource stocks performed well as commodity prices rose. However, Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) closed 0.9 per cent lower amid a broker downgrade, check out broker moves, Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) closed 0.8 per cent higher and BHP (ASX:BHP) closed 0.9 per cent higher.

Gold players rallied again with Northern Star (ASX:NST) and Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) both closing 2.1 and 2.4 per cent higher while Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) came out on top, closing 3.1 per cent higher.

Elsewhere, financial stocks were mixed today with Macquarie Bank (ASX:MQG) performing the best out of the banks, adding 1.4 per cent, while Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) and National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) dipped lower 0.098 and 0.1 per cent lower. Meanwhile, Westpac (ASX:WBC) closed flat. 

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.7 per cent or 49 points higher at 7,439.

Local economic news

National job advertisements fell by 2.5 per cent or 6,200 job positions in December 2021 to stand at 245,600 available positions as per the National Skills Commission, seasonally adjusted. This is the first decline in recruitment activity following the recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 Delta outbreak observed over the previous three months.

Meanwhile, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released job vacancies data for the November quarter 2021 with 396,000 job vacancies, 169,000 more than before the start of the pandemic, according to new seasonally adjusted figures. Private sector vacancies were 361,700 in the November quarter, an increase of 19.4 per cent from August. Public sector vacancies were 34,300, 9.7 per cent higher than August.

Company news

The Bank of Spain has given their tick of approval for Block’s takeover of Afterpay (ASX:APT). Afterpay’s last day of trade will be this time next week, then by Thursday, Block is slated to start trading under ticker code SQ2. Shares closed 4.8 per cent higher at $77.04.

Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR) has resumed trade after revealing its latest deal with South Korean-based LG Energy Solution to supply up to 150,000 dry metric tonnes per annum of spodumene concentrate, an ingredient to make batteries for electric vehicles. Shares closed 5.8 per cent higher at $1.64.

In more mining news, Lithium Power (ASX:LPI) has revealed its plans to spin off its Western Australian hard rock lithium in the next six months. The split will create a separate entity which will look to list on the ASX. Shares closed 1.7 per cent higher at $0.59.

Irongate (ASX:IAP) has rejected the latest takeover offer from 360 Capital to acquire all shares in the real estate group. Shares closed 0.3 per cent lower at $1.71.

OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL) has finalised several new roles on its executive leadership team. The mining company has named Matt Reed as operations executive. Shares closed 0.8 per cent higher at $28.76. 

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 46 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a rise of 4 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a rise of 7 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 52 points when the market next opens.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Energy, up 3 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Consumer Staples, down 0.6 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Nickel Mines (ASX:NIC), closing 6.5 per cent higher at $1.55. It was followed by shares in Life360 (ASX:360) and Imugene (ASX:IMU).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Domino Pizza Enterprises (ASX:DMP), closing 4.2 per cent lower at $107.50. It was followed by shares in Reece (ASX:REH) and Metcash (ASX:MTS).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has gained 1.8 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 2.3 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has gained 0.4 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1820.81 an ounce.
Iron ore is 2.5 per cent higher at US$128.60 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 2.9 per cent.
Light crude is trading $0.14 higher at US$80.81 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 72.17 US cents.