ASX dips 0.1% on Friday, but gains 1.2% over the week

The Australian sharemarket edged lower on Friday’s session with seven out of eleven sectors in the red. Communication services weighed the most, followed by consumer discretionary and technology. On the other hand, materials led the pack, followed by energy and utilities. 

Tech shares were under pressure with Afterpay owner Block (ASX:SQ2) down 2.6 per cent to $180.50 and Tyro Payments (ASX:TYR) down 4 per cent to $1.69.

Major banks closed lower, except Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG) which rose 1.3 per cent to $206.00 amid news to expand its presence in the solar sector. The investment banking giant is set to buy a 50 per cent stake in Island Green Power, a U.K.-based renewable energy developer.

ANZ Banking (ASX:ANZ) was down 1.5 per cent to $27.18, Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) fell 1.2 per cent to $104.53, Westpac (ASX:WBC) fell 1.2 per cent to $23.95 and National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) closed 0.1 per cent lower at $32.33.

Heavyweight miners were a bright spot today. Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) rose 1.9 per cent to $21.06, BHP (ASX:BHP) lifted 1.2 per cent to $52.39 and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) closed 1 per cent higher at $120.34.

Lithium stocks rallied following an update from producer Allkem (ASX:AKE), which said that strong market conditions were continuing to affect the price received for the battery material. Allkem (ASX:AKE) closed 8.5 per cent higher at $12.40, and was the top performer.

Gold stocks finished mixed. Northern Star (ASX:NST) fell 2.2 per cent to $10.50, Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) dropped 1.6 per cent to $4.33 and Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) closed 0.7 per cent higher at $26.93.

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.1 per cent or 6 points lower at 7,494. Over the week it gained 1.2 per cent or 88 points.

What else was on watch today?

Energy stocks were on watch today after oil prices fell overnight on news from the Biden Administration and the meeting outcome from OPEC+. However, Santos (ASX:STO) rose 2.1 per cent to $7.90, Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) added 1.8 per cent to $32.68 and Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) closed 0.3 per cent higher at $1.56.

On the broker front, Tabcorp (ASX:TAH) received a few broker upgrades. Credit Suisse upgraded its rating to outperform with a price target of $6.20, Goldman Sachs also put a buy rating and $6.20 price target as well. The brokers note that the demerger is a key catalyst in “unlocking significant shareholder value.” Shares closed 3 per cent higher at $5.50.

Bell Potter cut Uniti’s (ASX:UWL) rating to a hold with a price target of $5. Shares closed 0.3 per cent higher at $4.74.

As for companies, CIMIC (ASX:CIM) closed flat at $22.00 after the company decided to remove its nominee directors from the Ventia board and to waive certain other rights in order to avoid any perceived conflict of interest.

Eligible shareholders of Suncorp (ASX:SUN), Telstra (ASX:TLS), and Treasury Wine Estates (ASX:TWE) were set to receive a dividend payment or reinvestment of shares today among the 14 companies which were slated to pay. Suncorp (ASX:SUN) closed flat at $11.12, Telstra (ASX:TLS) closed 0.5 per cent lower at $3.94 and Treasury Wine Estates (ASX:TWE) closed flat at $11.58.

Local economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the lending Indicators for February. New loan commitments fell 3.7 per cent for housing, rose 6.5 per cent for personal fixed term loans and fell 40.2 per cent for business construction.

CoreLogic released its national home value index for March, which was up 0.7 per cent, a subtle increase on the 0.6 per cent lift recorded in February. It said the uptick in the monthly rate of growth was primarily driven by stronger conditions in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and the ACT, along with several regional areas, offsetting a slip in values across Sydney and Melbourne.

Sydney’s growth rate is showing the most significant slowdown, falling from a peak of 9.3 per cent in the three months to May 2021, to 0.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2022. Melbourne’s housing market has seen the quarterly rate of growth slow from 5.8 per cent in April last year to just 0.1 per cent over the past three months.

Company news

Corporate Travel Management (ASX:CTD) completed its $175 million acquisition of Helloworld Travel. The travel booking company said it will integrate Helloworld’s corporate and entertainment brands right away, with an acute focus on welcoming customers and optimising travel policies through its service. Shares closed flat at $23.76.

NZ financial group Heartland (ASX:HGH) is set to acquire StockCo from its current shareholders, StockCo Australia which owns 70 per cent, and agribusiness Elders which owns 30 per cent. StockCo Australia specialises in livestock finance for cattle and sheep farmers. Shares closed 1 per cent higher at $2.11.

Domain Holdings Australia (ASX:DHG) is set to acquire real estate campaign management platform Realbase for $180 million plus contingent consideration of up to $50 million. The acquisition will be funded via an $180 million underwritten entitlement offer, issuing around 47.4 million shares at $3.80 per share. Shares are in a trading halt, and last traded flat at $4.01.

The Star Entertainment Group (ASX:SGR) has said John O’Neill will assume the role of interim executive chairman until a new managing director and CEO is appointed. This follows the resignation of Star’s former CEO Matt Bekier this week. Shares closed flat at $3.25.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 92 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a rise of 12 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a rise of 43 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 12 points when the market next opens.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Materials, up 1.3 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Communication Services, down 1.5 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Allkem (ASX:AKE), closing 8.5 per cent higher at $12.40. It was followed by shares in Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) and De Grey Mining (ASX:DEG).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Perseus Mining (ASX:PRU), closing 5.4 per cent lower at $1.85. It was followed by shares in IDP Education (ASX:IEL) and Reece (ASX:REH).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.5 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.9 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has gained 0.6 per cent.

Wall Street

Over the last four trading days, the Dow Jones lost 0.5 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 0.3 per cent and the Nasdaq gained 0.4 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1937.98 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.1 per cent higher at US$158.30 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 2.01 per cent.
Light crude is trading $0.55 lower at US$99.73 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.78 US cents.