Banks, energy & travel stocks lift: ASX closes 0.6% higher

The Australian sharemarket has started the week on a positive note, after maintaining momentum in positive territory throughout the day. At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.6 per cent or 42 points higher at 7,384.

Across the sectors, all but two were in the black. Energy dominated, closing 1.8 per cent higher, financials were next, closing 1.5 per cent higher, then consumer discretionary, 1 per cent higher. Health care dragged the most, closing 1 per cent lower. 

The best-performing stock was the online marketplace Redbubble (ASX:RBL), closing 7.6 per cent higher. The worst-performing stock was data operater Nextdc (ASX:NXT), closing 3.6 per cent lower. 

Oil stocks rose. Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) closed 3.2 per cent higher while Santos (ASX:STO) and Oil Search (ASX:OSH) both closed 2 per cent higher. Major banks pushed higher, with Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) leading the pack, closing 3.4 per cent higher.

Iron ore prices remained steady. Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) closed 2.7 per cent higher, Rio (ASX:RIO) closed 1.1 per cent higher and BHP (ASX:BHP) closed flat. 

Travel stocks lifted today as vaccination rates and easing of restrictions were in sight. Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) closed 7.5 per cent higher, Qantas Airways (ASX:QAN) closed 2.8 per cent higher and Webjet (ASX:WEB) closed 5.2 per cent higher.

In headlines today, Sigma Healthcare launched a rival bid to Australian Pharmaceutical Industries, weeks after Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) proposed a take-over bid. Sigma Healthcare (ASX:SIG) closed 1.7 per cent higher while Australian Pharameutical Industries (ASX:API) closed 3.1 per cent higher.

IPO 

Pacific Edge (ASX:PEB)  joined the ASX today, shares closed flat at $1.56. 

Company news

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Ampol (ASX:ALD) has been given another 2 weeks to settle its take-over deal with New Zealand’s fuel distribution and retailing company Z Energy (ASX:ZEL).

Pharmacy wholesaler’s Sigma Healthcare (ASX:SIG) and Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (ASX:API) are in talk about a potential merger, weeks after Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) proposed a take-over bid to API.

NZ milk powder maker Synlait Milk (ASX:SM1) faced its most challenging year yet after profits fell more than 100 per cent as the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Cimic’s (ASX:CIM) subsidiary UGL has been awarded a contract extension to provide asset management and project-related services at BP fuel terminals across Australia.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 216 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a rise of 24 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a rise of 72 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 57 points when the market next opens.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Energy, up 1.8 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Health Care, down 1 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Redbubble (ASX:RBL), closing 7.6 per cent higher at $4.69. It was followed by shares in Flight Centre Travel Group (ASX:FLT) and Webjet (ASX:WEB).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Nextdc (ASX:NXT), closing 3.6 per cent lower at $13.09. It was followed by shares in Megaport (ASX:MP1) and Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.03 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 0.7 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has lost 0.6 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1756.75 an ounce.
Iron ore is 2.4 per cent higher at US$111.33 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 3.9 per cent.
Light crude is trading $1.05 higher at US$75.03 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 72.76 US cents.