Energy & Westpac fall, miners rise: ASX edges 0.1% lower

The Australian sharemarket is edging slightly lower this morning following a mixed market around the globe. At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.1 per cent or 9 points lower at 7290.8. The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 14 points.

All sectors are in the red at this point, except materials, up 0.9 per cent and consumer staples, up 0.1 per cent. Technology is dragging the most, down 1.6 per cent. Communication services are next, down 0.8 per cent, then financials, down 0.5 per cent.

The worst-performing stock is manufacturer of personal protection products Ansell (ASX:ANN), trading 5.1 per cent lower. The best-performing is mining company Alumina (ASX:AWC), trading 5.1 per cent higher. 

Energy stocks are easing back gains made over the past few weeks. Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) is down 0.6 per cent, Santos (ASX:STO) is down 0.3 per cent and Oil Search (ASX:OSH) is flat. Tech stocks are continuing a downward trend from yesterday, with Afterpay (ASX:APT) trading 2.6 per cent lower. Major banks are sinking, led by Westpac (ASX:WBC), down 1.3 per cent, after announcing that its profit for the second half will be cut by $1.3 billion.

Travel stocks remain under pressure, with Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) down 1.6 per cent and Corporate Travel Management (ASX:CTD) down 3.3 per cent. Star Entertainment (ASX:SGR) is down 3.8 per cent, following its 20 per cent drop yesterday.

Heavyweight miners are up as iron ore prices lift. Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is up 1.3 per cent, while BHP (ASX:BHP) and Fortescue (ASX:FMG) are up 1.2 per cent. Gold stock Perseus Mining (ASX:PRU) is also up 4 per cent.

Local economic news

The weekly consumer confidence report from ANZ and Roy Morgan was released this morning. Consumer confidence was up for the 5th straight week, up by 1 point to 105.6 in mid-October. However, consumer confidence remains below the 2021 weekly average of 108.3 but is now 7.9 points higher than the same week a year ago, October 10/11, 2020 (97.7).

Consumer confidence this week was up in Sydney as the 106 day lockdown finally came to an end. Consumer confidence was also up in Brisbane and Adelaide, however down in Melbourne as the lockdown of that city is set to continue for another two weeks. Driving this week’s small increase was increasing confidence about the performance of the Australian economy over the next year and more Australians saying now is a ‘good time to buy’ major household items.

National Australia Bank released their September business survey report. Business confidence rebounded strongly in September. The improvement was driven by large shifts in confidence in NSW and Victoria following the announcement of reopening roadmaps in these states as well as rising vaccination rates across the country. Recreation & personal services, wholesale trade, and retail – some of the sectors worst affected by lockdowns – all saw a significant confidence boost, as did construction. 

Current business conditions deteriorated significantly across all states, particularly NSW and Victoria, as lockdowns and disruptions continued to weigh on activity. Overall, the economy has shown considerable resilience through the most recent round of lockdowns.

Business confidence rebounded 19 points to +13 index points in September, with NSW (up 42 points to +27 index points) and Victoria (up 16 points to +5) driving the shift, while other states fell back somewhat. There were big improvements in confidence in wholesale (up 28 points), recreation & personal services (up 26 points), and construction (up 23 points).

Company news

Financial services provider AMP (ASX:AMP) has appointed Patrick Snowball from UK’s provident financial as chairman and Andrew Fay from Pendal as deputy chairman for AMP’s private markets business.

Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) have wrapped up its 13th and final report to improve its governance, culture and accountability across the bank.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Materials, up 0.9 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 Alumina (ASX:AWC), trading 5.1 per cent higher at $2.26. It is followed by shares in Perseus Mining (ASX:PRU) and Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Ansell (ASX:ANN), trading 5.1 per cent lower at $32.13. It is followed by shares in Corporate Travel Mgmt (ASX:CTD) and The Star Ent Group (ASX:SGR).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1751.17 an ounce.
Iron ore is 9.4 per cent higher at US$135.03 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 0.12 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 73.38 US cents.