The Australian sharemarket has marched higher to a nine week high after a weak start as the local bourse looks to continue its rally for the sixth time in seven days.
Energy, materials lead while tech falls
Oil prices continue to climb ahead of the NATO summit where a discussion is slated on further Russian sanctions as they assess the war. After a jump in the NYMEX crude to over US$116, energy stocks has resumed its rally as the best performing sector, materials also join the circle with utilities in the limelight as well.
Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) is up 3 per cent to $33.20, while Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) and Santos (ASX:STO) is up from 1.5 per cent to 2 per cent.
BHP (ASX:BHP) which has a 10 per cent weighting on the index is up 2 per cent to $49.40 while Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is rising in the same percentage change. Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) is bucking the trend, down 0.3 per cent at $18.93.
Search for safety trims financial’s gain
Giving back its gains are financials, down 0.7 per cent weighed down by Zip (ASX:Z1P) while the major lenders are trading mixed. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) is down 0.5 per cent while National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) is flat as investors buy back into treasuries.
As the search for safety continues into treasuries, gold stocks are in favour also with Northern Star (ASX:NST) and Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) up in the order of over 3.3 per cent.
Healthcare sector lags, Resmed hurt amid broker cuts
Downward pressure in the healthcare sector by Resmed (ASX:RMD) is weighing on the sector amid several broker downgrades. Macquarie trimmed its price target to $37.50 from $38.80 maintaining its outperform rating after a conference call with the sleep treatment giant. The broker’s raised forecast from Philips’ recall has been offset with concerns around component shortages. Shares are trading 4 per cent lower to $32.07.
While shares in Mesoblast (ASX:MSB) jumped on optimism on the appointment of Dr Philip Krause joining the board. Dr. Krause was the deputy director of Office of Vaccines Research and Review at the US FDA for a decade and shared responsibility for regulatory authorizations of Covid-19 vaccines in the US. Shares up 3.2 per cent to $1.14.
Stocks to watch from outlook
Amid a broker upgrade from Barrenjoey, AGL Energy (ASX:AGL) is trading 2.3 per cent higher to $7.44 while Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) is up 1.2 per cent to $6.18.
Nickel Mines’ (ASX:NIC) share price is trading 1.1 per cent lower after investors digested Moody’s revised rating outlook to negative from stable, reflecting the increased risk and uncertainty for the company’s ongoing credit profile, given the recent issues facing its sole offtaker, Tsingshan.
In the broader circle of nickel miners, IGO (ASX:IGO) is up 0.9 per cent to $13.21 while Western Areas (ASX:WSA) is up 1 per cent to $3.60.
NAB launches next $2.5b buy-back
National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) has popped a dual announcement on share buy-backs. On completing the $2.5 billion buy-back unveiled last July, the nation’s third largest bank has launched another buy-back worth $2.5 billion, subject to market conditions. The new round is set to start, following the bank’s half year results on 5 May. Shares are trading flat at $31.71.
Brickworks’ share price blows rooftop, Washington Sol pops
A 12 per cent increase on Washington H. Soul Pattinson (ASX:SOL)’s interim fully-franked dividend of 29 cents per share has been attributed to merger with Milton. Despite first half earnings plunging to a loss of $643.1 million, attributable to a one-off goodwill impairment of $954 million due to the merger, excluding this transaction, the company’s regular profit after tax surged 281 per cent to $343.7 million. Its revenue came in higher by 117 per cent to $1.28 billion compared to $589 million in the same period last year. Shares are trading 1.5 per cent higher to $27.06.
Meanwhile, the nation’s largest brickmaking giant Brickworks (ASX:BKW) benefited from improved production efficiencies and price hikes despite the supply chain woes in a high inflationary environment. The company unveiled its record statutory half-year of $581 million in net after-tax profits for six months to the end of January, up 720 per cent from the prior corresponding period. The result was boosted by a significant one-off profit in relation to the deemed disposal of Washington H Soul Pattinson (ASX:SOL) shares upon its merger with Milton during the half. A fully franked interim dividend of 22 cents per share, an increase of 1 cent from the prior period, is set to be paid on 3 May. Shares have leapt 4 per cent to $22.65
JB Hi-Fi’s 3rd quarter grows on demand surge
JB Hi-Fi’s (ASX:JBH) financial year 2022 year-to-date sales growth for Australia is at 1.5 per cent, 1 per cent for The Good Guys, however its New Zealand operations are behind by 2.5 per cent. On a quarterly basis, its third quarter results reflect heightened customer demand amid a $250 million off-market buyback. For the third quarter, Aussie operations rose 10.5 per cent, the Good Guys business was up 5.1 per cent, while its Kiwi operations were tracking higher by 2.9 per cent. As customer demand grew alongside disciplined cost control and stock availability, this has boosted its performance for the period.
In Asian markets, Japan’s Nikkei has slipped from yesterday’s 3 per cent surge, down 1.2 per cent amid a cheaper yen.
At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.2 per cent or 11 points higher at 7.389.
The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 15 points.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector is energy, up 1.8 per cent. The worst-performing sector is information technology, down 1.6 per cent.
The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is AVZ Minerals (ASX:AVZ), trading 9.2 per cent higher at $1.13. It is followed by shares in Brickworks (ASX:BKW) and Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM).
The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Zip Co (ASX:Z1P), trading 6.1 per cent lower at $1.54. It is followed by shares in Life360 (ASX:360) and ResMed (ASX:RMD).
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1948.37 an ounce.
Iron ore is 2.1 per cent higher at US$146.45 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 2.16 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.91 US cents.