Block leads tech’s surge, Fisher & Paykel tumbles on revenue guidance: ASX up 0.5% at noon

Following Wall St’s lead, the Australian sharemarket opened higher and has stayed in positive territory as technology takes the crown from materials. The local bourse continues to be volatile amid ongoing concerns around the Ukraine war and what it means for the commodity market. 

Technology is rallying among the sectors, with utilities, real estate and financials also in the winner’s corner. On the other hand, materials are dragging, with energy behind as the only other sector in the red. 

Imugene (ASX:IMU) is leading the market, up 9.6 per cent to $0.29 following its news about receiving ethics approval to start the phase 1 clinical trial for its new cancer oncolytic virotherapy vaccine in the US. 

Afterpay owner Block (ASX:SQ2) is leading the tech sector, up 8.7 per cent to $189.78 after closing 5 per cent lower yesterday and 9 per cent higher on Monday. This appears to reflect the current environment at the moment. Rival stock Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) is trading 6.5 per cent higher, while financial stock Virgin Money UK (ASX:VUK) has added 4.6 per cent. 

Major banks are higher, led by Macquarie (ASX:MQG) up 1.8 per cent to $201.20. Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) has risen 1.1 per cent to $107.25, National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) has added 1.1 per cent to $31.56, ANZ Banking (ASX:ANZ) is up 1.1 per cent to $27.96 and Westpac (ASX:WBC) is trading 0.4 per cent higher at $23.72.

Elsewhere, Fisher & Paykel (ASX:FPH) is trading over 6 per cent lower at $24.21, and is the worst-performing stock after unveiling revenue guidance for the 2022 financial year. The healthcare company said it expects revenue to be in the range of $1.56 billion (NZ$1.675 billion) to $1.59 billion (NZ$1.70 billion), which appears to be below the consensus of $$1.64 billion (NZ$1.76 billion). 

Sonic Healthcare (ASX:SHL) is trading 1.8 per cent higher amid a broker upgrade, while Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) is trading 1.9 per cent higher amid the broad rally among travel stocks. 

BHP Group (ASX:BHP) is weighing on iron ore players, down 1.5 per cent to $48.07. Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) has declined 0.4 per cent to $113.26 and Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) is trading 0.2 per cent lower at $18.91.

Gold stocks are lower, with Northern Star (ASX:NST) down 1.8 per cent to $10.41, Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) down 1.8 per cent lower at $4.37 and Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) trading 1.5 per cent lower at $25.60.

Carnarvon Energy (ASX:CVN) has surged 14 per cent after Santos disclosed a significant oil discovery at the Pavo-1 well. Santos (ASX:STO) is up 0.3 per cent to $7.81, while Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) is trading 0.03 per cent higher at $32.17 and Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) is down 0.9 per cent to $1.61. 

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.5 per cent or 38.8 points higher at 7379.9.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 3 points.

Local economic news 

The National Skills Commission released the February job vacancies figures. Job advertisements increased 3.6 per cent (or 9,300 job advertisements) in February 2022 to stand at 269,700. This maintains momentum in recruitment activity growth following the strong increase of 4.4 per cent observed in January 2022. Nationally, job advertisement levels remain commensurate with a 13-year high.

Company news 

After four years in her role, Sheila Lines has announced her intention to resign as chief financial officer (CFO) of oOh!media (ASX:OML). The advertising company said Sheila will depart from the company later this year to pursue external opportunities and will assist in the transition to a new CFO. Shares are trading 0.6 per cent higher at $1.68.

KMD Brands (ASX:KMD), formally known as Katmandu, has reported a loss of $5.1 million ($NZ5.5 million) in the six months to January 31 after stores closures and shipping delays weighed on the New Zealand-based retailer. Shares are trading 0.4 per cent higher at $1.24. 

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is information technology, up 3.2 per cent. The worst-performing sector is materials, down 0.85 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Imugene (ASX:IMU), trading 9.6 per cent higher at $0.29. It is followed by shares in PolyNovo (ASX:PNV) and Block (ASX:SQ2).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (ASX:FPH), trading over 6 per cent lower at $24.21. It is followed by shares in Champion Iron (ASX:CIA) and Perseus Mining (ASX:PRU).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1918.08 an ounce.
Iron ore is 3.0 per cent lower at US$143.50 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 1.9 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.54 US cents.