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The Aussie sharemarket has opened higher with Turkey saying that Moscow and Ukraine are closer to a peace talk. The technology sector is leading the ASX, with consumer discretionary coming in second, while industrials and energy are dragging lower.
Afterpay owner Block (ASX:SQ2) is leading the market, trading almost 9 per cent higher at $183.99. Over the last five trading days, Block has been up 37 per cent.
Eagers Automotive (ASX:APE) is leading the consumer discretionary sector, up 1.9 per cent to $12.76 after entering a non-binding agreement with Australian Motor Group to sell its Bill Buckle Auto business and associated properties in Sydney’s Northern Beaches for around $92 million.
Amid the news around Australia’s help to Ukraine, Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) is down 1.4 per cent.
AGL Energy (ASX:AGL) is up 0.4 per cent to $7.24 after the giant received the green light from the state government to build a 500 megawatt battery on a coal-fired plant in NSW, three times the size of Tesla’s battery in South Australia.
Qube (ASX:QUB) announced a $400 million off-market buyback program via a tender process. At its half-year results in late February, Qube said it intended to return $400 million of capital to shareholders in FY22 following completion of the Moorebank Logistics Park transaction. Shares are trading 1.3 per cent higher at $3.05.
Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) is leading iron-ore players, up 2.1 per cent to $18.96. BHP Group (ASX:BHP) has risen 1.2 per cent to $46.78 and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is trading 0.6 per cent higher at $111.04.
Northern Star (ASX:NST) is dragging gold stocks lower, down 3.1 per cent to $10.32. Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) has fallen 2.6 per cent to $25.30 and Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) is trading 1 per cent lower at $4.42.
All major banks are higher, except National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) down 0.5 per cent to $31.05. Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG) has risen 1.6 per cent to $197.88, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) has added 0.5 per cent to $106.77, ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) is up 0.5 per cent to $27.73 and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) is trading 0.1 per cent higher at $23.68.
Meanwhile, energy stocks are lower, led by Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) down 1.8 per cent to $1.54. Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) has dipped 0.2 per cent to $31.31 and Santos (ASX:STO) is trading 0.1 per cent lower at $7.54.
Elsewhere, Hamish Douglass has resigned from Magellan Financial’s (ASX:MFG) board following its decision to step down as chairman in February on medical leave, which has now led him to resign as a director. The board will continue to search for another independent director. Shares are trading 1 per cent lower at $15.58.
Link Administration (ASX:LNK) said regulatory approvals have been finalised for the Dye & Durham takeover bid announced in December, with completion expected to occur in June or July. Shares are trading 1.3 per cent higher at $5.16.
At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.4 per cent or 30 points higher at 7,324.
The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 18 points.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector is Information Technology, up 3 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Industrials, down 0.6 per cent.
The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Block (ASX:SQ2), trading almost 9 per cent higher at $183.99. It is followed by shares in Life360 (ASX:360) and Novonix (ASX:NVX).
The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is De Grey Mining (ASX:DEG), trading 7.5 per cent lower at $1.21. It is followed by shares in Atlas Arteria (ASX:ALX) and Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals (ASX:CUV).
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1922.53 an ounce.
Iron ore is 3.0 per cent higher at US$151.35 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 2.2 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.18 US cents.