ASX snaps 3-week winning streak, closing the week 0.2% lower

The Australian sharemarket spent the day in positive territory, buoyed by gains in materials and energy stocks, while technology fell, snapping its three week winning streak.

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) took full control of an alumina refinery it owns with United Co. Rusal International PJSC in Australia, formally removing access to a key source of raw material for the Russian aluminium giant, according to Bloomberg. Shares in Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) lifted 0.3 per cent to $119.14, while BHP (ASX:BHP) was up 1.8 per cent to $51.97 and Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) closed 0.6 per cent higher at $21.89.

Meanwhile, annual general meetings were on deck for OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL) and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO), while GUD Holdings (ASX:GUD) hosted its investor day. OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL) was up 0.9 per cent to $25.74 and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) was up 0.3 per cent to $119.14, while GUD Holdings (ASX:GUD) was up 2.1 per cent to $11.72.

CIMIC Group (ASX:CIM) was removed from the ASX 200 and replaced with HomeCo Daily Needs REIT (ASX:HDN) as per S&P Global, as a result of the board approved, off-market takeover offer from HOCHTIEF Australia Holdings. Shares in HomeCo Daily Needs REIT (ASX:HDN) closed 0.3 per cent lower at $1.48.

Gold stocks added to today’s gains, led by Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) up 2.9 per cent to $27.59. Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) rose 1.7 per cent to $4.30 and Northern Star (ASX:NST) closed 1 per cent to $10.25.

Energy stocks eased back its gains after Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) tumbled 2 per cent in the afternoon to $32.26. Santos (ASX:STO) rose 0.9 per cent to $7.98, Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) closed flat at $1.55, while Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN) remained as the top performer, closing 12.5 per cent higher at $0.90.

Major banks were mixed. Macquarie (ASX:MQG) rose 0.8 per cent to $203.64, ANZ Banking (ASX:ANZ) was up 0.6 per cent to $27.50 and Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) edged 0.1 per cent higher to $105.38, while Westpac (ASX:WBC) finished flat at $24.10, and National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) finished flat at $32.47.

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.5 per cent or 35 points higher at 7,478. Over the week, it closed 0.2 per cent or 16 points lower.

Local economic news

The business turnover indicator report for February showed a rise in business turnover for all 13 of the published industries. The largest rises were in transport, postal and warehousing (9.3 per cent), arts and recreation services (8 per cent) and construction (7.4 per cent). Through the year, the largest rises were recorded in mining (35.1 per cent) followed by transport, postal and warehousing (31.5 per cent), according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The Reserve Bank released its bi-annual financial stability review report. Financial systems remain resilient but face higher volatility and uncertainty, rising inflation and interest rates will make it difficult for some borrowers to meet debt payments, large falls in property or financial asset prices would be disruptive for financial markets and the economy, and the risks of cyber-attacks have increased for banks and other financial institutions.

Company news

Chorus (ASX:CNU) announced two executive changes today. Its current director Mark Cross will take over Patrick Strange as chairman, when Dr Strange stands down in October. Mr Cross is currently chair of Milford Asset Management and will retire from there on July 1. Meanwhile, its chief financial officer David Collins has resigned and plans to return to Australia later in the year following Atlas Ateria’s (ASX:ALX) announcement which appointed Mr Collins as its new CFO. Shares in Chorus (ASX:CNU) closed 0.3 per cent lower at $6.76.

Pro Medicus (ASX:PME) said its US subsidiary Visage Imaging have signed a $32 million contract with Inova Health System, a nonprofit healthcare provider in Northern Virginia. The 8-year contract will see the company’s Visage 7 enterprise imaging platform implemented throughout Inova and Fairfax Radiology. It said planning for the rollout will commence immediately. Shares closed 1.7 per cent higher at $48.01.

Waypoint REIT’s (ASX:WPR) chief financial officer Kerri Leech has resigned from the company to pursue another career opportunity. Chief executive officer Hadyn Stephens noted the contribution that Ms Leech has made since joining in early 2020. Shares closed flat at $2.70.

Global demand for Australian grain and oilseeds led GrainCorp (ASX:GNC) to upgrade its earnings guidance for the 2022 financial year. The conflict in Ukraine has created uncertainty in global grain markets, with buyers looking for alternate sources of supply. Meanwhile, the recent weather patterns have also provided favourable planting conditions for the upcoming East Coast Australian winter crop. GrainCorp now expects financial year 2022 net profit after tax to be between $310 to $370 million from the previous $235 to $280 million. Shares closed 5.6 per cent higher at $9.18.

Broker moves

Ord Minnett rates CSL (ASX:CSL) as an accumulator with a target price of $295. The blood collecting giant’s latest data on plasma collections flag that volumes continue to move higher despite low staff and donor challenges.

The rate of recovery remains challenging, although the broker is confident CSL’s recovery is ahead of the industry, supported by its centre opening strategy.

CSL remains the broker’s key preference in the healthcare sector given the strong earnings growth expected in financial year 2023 and financial year 2024, supported by a recovery in plasma collections and benefits from the Vifor acquisition. Shares closed 0.3 per cent lower at $265.87.


The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 79 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a rise of 10 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a rise of 51 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 36 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 Real Estate Investment Trusts, down 0.4 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN), closing 13.1 per cent higher at $0.91. It was followed by shares in GrainCorp (ASX:GNC) and Gold Road Resources (ASX:GOR).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Platinum Asset Management (ASX:PTM), closing 15 per cent lower at $1.90. It was followed by shares in Tyro Payments (ASX:TYR) and PointsBet Holdings (ASX:PBH).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has gained 0.4 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.2 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has gained 0.4 per cent.

Wall Street

Over the last four trading days, the Dow Jones lost 0.7 per cent, the S&P 500 lost 1 per cent and the Nasdaq lost 2.6 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1930.34 an ounce.
Iron ore is 3.2 per cent lower at US$155.05 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 1 per cent.
Light crude is trading $0.41 higher at US$91.60 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.80 US cents.