The Australian sharemarket see-sawed throughout Friday’s session while predominantly running flat in the late afternoon. At the closing bell, it was flat at 7,416. Over the week, it closed 54 points or 0.7 per cent higher.
Across the sectors, five out of eleven finished in the red. Energy fell the lowest, down 2.1 per cent, followed by materials, down 1.2 per cent, as oil and iron prices fell later in the week, which dragged the resources sector lower. Technology was next, down 0.1 per cent. Meanwhile, consumer discretionary was the best performer, up 1.4 per cent, followed by consumer staples, up 1 per cent, then health care, up 0.7 per cent . The best-performing stock was Healius (ASX:HLS), closing 4 per cent higher. The worst-performing stock was Lynas Rare Earths (ASX:LYC), closing 8.1 per cent lower following its quarterly results.
Energy stocks fell further in the afternoon, led by Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) closing 2.9 per cent lower, followed by Santos (ASX:STO) and Oil Search (ASX:OSH) closing 2.5 and 1.8 per cent lower. To top it off, Yancoal (ASX:YLD) closed 8.7 per cent lower, Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) closed 3 per cent lower and Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) closed 4.2 per cent lower.
Iron ore prices were trading lower today, with reactions from BHP (ASX:BHP), closing 2.1 per cent lower, and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO), closing 1.6 per cent lower. Mining company Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) also contributed to the losses, closing 3.8 per cent lower.
Qantas (ASX:QAN) fell in the afternoon, closing 0.2 per cent lower following its announcement to bring forward international flights. Meanwhile, Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) closed 0.2 per cent cent lower and Webjet (ASX:WEB) closed 0.3 per cent lower, while Auckland International Airport (ASX:AIA) closed 3.2 per cent higher.
In headlines, Aurizon (ASX:AZJ) closed 6.2 per cent lower, following its $3.25 billion deal to acquire OneRail Australia.
Amongst the gains today, retail giant Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) closed 3.2 per cent higher, health stocks Fisher and Paykel (ASX:FPH) and ProMedicus (ASX:PME) both closed 2 per cent higher and Woolworths (ASX:WOW) closed 1.6 per cent higher.
Local economic news
Today was an online panel participation by Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe at Universidad de Chile’s Conference on Central Bank Independence, Mandates and Policies.
IHS Markit released their early flash estimates of manufacturing and services activity for purchasing managers in October.
Flash Australia composite output index for Oct: 52.2, 4-month high (Sep final: 46).
Flash Australia services business activity index for Oct: 52.0, 4-month high (Sep final: 45.5).
Flash Australia manufacturing output index Oct: 53.2, 4-month high (Sep final: 52.8).
Flash Australia manufacturing PMI Oct: 57.3, 4-month high (Sep final: 56.8).
Business activity in the Australian private sector returned to growth in October, according to Flash PMI® data, following three months of contraction. The easing of Covid-19 restrictions enabled a marked improvement in demand and activity which translated to sustained employment growth. In turn, accumulation of backlogged work was seen and private sector firms continued to expect activity to increase over the coming 12 months. Price pressures, however, continued to intensify for firms.
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Qantas (ASX:QAN) and Jetstar are set to bring forward the restart of more international flights from Sydney, including to Singapore, Bangkok and Johannesburg, as NSW prepares to reopen for international travel from November 1.
Rail operator Aurizon (ASX:AZJ) has unveiled a $2.35 billion deal to acquire One Rail Australia (ORA) from Macquarie Asset Management (ASX:MQG) using existing and new debt facilities.
Lithium company Orocobre (ASX:ORE) has announced record production from its Mt Cattlin mine in Western Australia and an increase in lithium production after reporting on its September quarter.
Global software company Nuix (ASX: NXL) has appointed Jonathan Rubinsztein from Infomedia as chief executive officer.
The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 19 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a fall of 4 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a fall of 76 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 7 points when the market next opens.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector was Consumer Discretionary, up 1.4 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Energy, down 2.1 per cent.
The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Healius (ASX:HLS), closing 4 per cent higher at $4.94. It was followed by shares in Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) and Auckland International (ASX:AIA).
The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Lynas Rare Earths (ASX:LYC), closing 8.1 per cent lower at $6.84. It was followed by shares in Aurizon Holdings (ASX:AZJ) and Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN).
Japan’s Nikkei has gained 0.4 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 0.6 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has gained 0.2 per cent.
Over the last four trading days, the Dow Jones gained 0.9 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 1.7 per cent and the Nasdaq gained 2.1 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1787.05 an ounce.
Iron ore is 5.8 per cent lower at US$116.93 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 0.5 per cent.
Light crude is trading $0.30 lower at US$82.20 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.80 US cents.