ASX closes up 1.2%, buoyed by tech: Aus shares snap 4-week losing streak

The Australian sharemarket ended the week on a high, bouncing back from Thursday’s losses as Aussie investors shrugged off declines on Wall Street ahead of the Federal election tomorrow. The week saw mixed reactions after investors digested the latest wage figures and unemployment rates. Also having an impact were recession fears around the globe and China’s Covid news.

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 1.2 per cent or 81 points higher at 7,146. Over the week, it closed almost 1 per cent or 71 points higher, its best performance since the week ending Friday 1 April. 

Today’s gains were led by information tech, closing above 4 cent, followed by materials and consumer discretionary, above 2 per cent, while energy weighed on the pack, down 1.6 per cent.

Novonix (ASX:NVX) led the tech space, up 11.7 per cent to $4.11, with Life360 (ASX:360) up 11.8 per cent to $3.88. Pointerra (ASX:3DP), a small tech stock, jumped 18.2 per cent to $0.26 despite no company news being released today.

Block (ASX:SQ2) jumped 10 per cent to $127.73 after founder Jack Dorsey told investors the acquisition of Afterpay will help the company create a financial services and retailing platform that combines the company’s original payments services with its consumer financial management “super app”, backed by tools to lift access to bitcoin.

Strong iron ore prices buoyed mining giants, led by Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG), up 3.6 per cent to $20.09 and BHP (ASX:BHP), up 2.2 per cent to $47.23, while Chalice Mining (ASX:CHN) rose nearly 20 per cent to $6.81 as the top performer. 

Gold miners soared, led by Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN), up 6.3 per cent to $3.72, while Northern Star (ASX:NST) rose 4.1 per cent to $9.07.

Meanwhile, oil prices weighed on energy stocks as investors worried that weakening global economic growth and tighter central bank monetary policy could curb a recovery in fuel demand. Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) fell 3.5 per cent to $28.86 as the second-worst performer, and Santos (ASX:STO) closed 1.6 per cent lower at $8.08.

Major banks were led by Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG), up 2.1 per cent to $181.37,  while Westpac (ASX:WBC) shed the least, up 0.5 per cent to $23.57.

Baby milk formula companies were on the move with President Joe Biden launching “operation fly formula” to address America’s shortage of baby formula. A2 Milk (ASX:A2M) closed 2.4 per cent higher at $4.28, while Bubs Australia (ASX:BUB) closed flat at $0.42.

Aristocrat Leisure (ASX:ALL) continued to rally, up 4.4 per cent to $35.20 after its 6.7 per cent jump yesterday as investors mulled on the online gaming company’s plans to return up to $500 million to shareholders through an on-market buyback, after raising $1.3 billion for its failed takeover bid of UK gaming software company Playtech.

Supermarket giants recovered some of their declines today after weak earnings from US retailers Walmart and Target sparked a sell-off. Coles (ASX:COL) edged 0.2 per cent higher, but fell 3.2 per cent on the week. Wesfarmers, the owner of the Bunnings and Kmart chains, jumped 1.9 per cent to $46.78, but fell 6.4 per cent on the week.

Woolworths (ASX:WOW) rose 0.7 per cent to $35.41, but fell 6 per cent on the week. The company announced its plans to purchase an 80 per cent stake in online marketplace retailer MyDeal.com.au (ASX:MYD), which jumped 55.8 per cent today.

Company news

BetMakers (ASX:BET) signed one agreement and terminated another. Its OM Apps business signed a new agreement with two divisions of The Waterhouse Group, Tarpin Finance and Rob Waterhouse. Meanwhile, BetMakers DNA terminated its managed trading agreement with Tarpin, which is expected to deliver higher gross profit margins to the business vertical with all revenues remaining with BetMakers. Shares closed 4 per cent higher at $0.52.

Fintech payments company Novatti (ASX:NOV) is set to receive a dividend in excess of $8 million from its 19.9 per cent stake in accounting software company Reckon, following Reckon’s deal to sell its Accountants Practice Management Group for $100 million. Shares in Novatti (ASX:NOV) closed 9.3 per cent higher at $0.24.

Etherstack Wireless (ASX:ESK) launched its NATO narrowband waveform platform which aims to improve communication capabilities and reduce costs for NATO member nations and their defence radio manufacturers. Shares closed 3.6 per cent higher at $0.43.

IGO (ASX:IGO) produced its first battery grade lithium hydroxide from the Kwinana Lithium Hydroxide Refinery, representing an “important milestone” for the lithium joint venture between IGO and Tianqi Lithium Corporation. Shares closed 5 per cent higher at $11.64.

Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) said it will prioritise the development of Yolla West and defer its Trefoil project. Shares closed 2.4 per cent lower at $1.62.

Develop Global (ASX:DVP) completed the acquisition of the Woodlawn zinc-copper mine in NSW by purchasing all the shares in Heron Resources. Shares closed 3.4 per cent higher at $2.46.

Woodside Petroleum’s (ASX:WPL) shareholders voted for a merger with BHP Group’s (ASX:BHP) petroleum arm. Shares in Woodside (ASX:WPL) closed 3.6 per cent lower at $28.82.

Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN) is set to be removed from the ASX 200 by May 25, subject to shareholder and final court approval of the scheme of arrangement whereby the company will be acquired by Blackstone Inc. Shares closed 0.3 per cent higher at $12.86.

The Supreme Court of NSW approved the demerger of the Lottery Corporation from gambling giant Tabcorp (ASX:TAH). Shares closed 1.9 per cent higher at $5.39.

The Australian Government awarded Calix (ASX:CXL) an $11 million grant to develop low emissions lime with its project partner Adbri (ASX:ABC). Shares in Calix rose 0.4 per cent to $7.50, while shares in Adbri fell 0.7 per cent to $2.80.

What else was on watch?

In broker moves, Morgan cut Nufarm (ASX:NUF) to hold with a price target of $6.65, while shares closed 4.1 per cent lower at $5.82. Technology One (ASX:TNE) to hold with a price target of $11, while shares closed 4.5 per cent higher at $10.48.

APA Group (ASX:APA) was being circled by at least one prospect in hopes to take the company private, according to The Australian. Shares closed 3.5 per cent higher at $12.01.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 192 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a rise of 31 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a rise of 135 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 84 points when the market next opens.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Information Technology, up 4.6 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Energy, down 1.6 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Chalice Mining (ASX:CHN), closing 19.1 per cent higher at $6.81. It was followed by shares in Life360 (ASX:360) and Novonix (ASX:NVX).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Nufarm (ASX:NUF), closing 4.1 per cent lower at $5.82. It was followed by shares in Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) and Orica (ASX:ORI).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has gained 1.4 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 2.2 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has gained 1.3 per cent.

Wall Street

Over the last four trading days, the Dow Jones lost 3 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 3.2 per cent and the Nasdaq lost 3.7 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1846.02 an ounce.
Iron ore is 2.2 per cent higher at US$129.40 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 3.9 per cent.
Light crude is trading $0.49 lower at US$109.40 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 70.40 US cents.