The Australian sharemarket improved in the afternoon session thanks to a lift in banks, miners and energy stocks. Despite the improvement, losses across the sectors forced the ASX to finish in the red. At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.3 per cent or 20 points lower at 7,300.
Most sectors closed in the red, except energy and materials, up 1.3 and 1.2 per cent, and consumer staples, up 0.2 per cent. Technology, health care and consumer discretionary were the biggest drags. Tech was down 2.7 per cent, consumer discretionary was down 1.7 per cent and health care was down 1.3 per cent.
The best-performing stock was Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC), closing 6.2 per cent higher. The worst-performing stock was Star Entertainment (ASX:SGR), closing 22.9 per cent lower as the casino giant responded to allegations.
Tech stocks tumbled today, led by Afterpay (ASX:APT), which closed 4.1 per cent lower, payment software Xero (ASX:XRO), 4.2 per cent lower, and WiseTech Global (ASX:WTC), 3.5 per cent lower. Health stocks also dragged with medical giant Sonic (ASX:SHL) closing 1.9 per cent lower. Ear specialist Cochlear (ASX:COH) closed 3 per cent lower and Clinuvel Pharmaceuticals (ASX:CUV) closed 3.5 per cent lower. Platinum Asset Management (ASX:PTM) was amongst the losers, closing 5.6 per cent lower.
After more then 100 days in lockdown, NSW celebrated its first day of social freedom. Despite the reopening of venues, travel stocks were under pressure as travel restrictions remain. Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) closed 2.3 per cent lower and Webjet (ASX:WEB) closed 1.9 per cent lower.
Major banks lifted in the afternoon, led by ANZ (ASX:ANZ), which closed 0.4 per cent higher. Energy stocks were a highlight today, as Ampol (ASX:ALD) closed 2.6 per cent higher after winning its takeover deal with Z Energy (ASX:ZEL), which closed 5.9 per cent higher. Iron ore stocks jumped in the afternoon, as iron ore prices lifted and Fortescue Metals announced its Qld hydrogen investment. Fortescue (ASX:FMG) closed 5.3 per cent higher.
In more company news, major insurers Suncorp (ASX:SUN) and Insurance Australia (ASX:IAG) closed 0.5 and 3.5 per cent higher, following updates on their second “business interruption” claims.
Local economic news
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Casino operator Star Entertainment has responded to recent media reports, claiming that a number of allegations made against them are “misleading”.
Australian petroleum giant has finally won over its deal to acquire New Zealand’s Z Energy, after months of take-over talks.
Major insurers Suncorp (ASX:SUN) and Insurance Australia (ASX:IAG) have both provided updates on their “business interruption” cases, in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cimic’s subsidiary UGL (ASX:CIM) has secured contracts in the resources and utilities sectors totalling $135m in revenue.
Fortescue’s (ASX:FMG) Future Industries (FFI) is set to build a renewable industry and equipment manufacturing centre at Gladstone, Queensland.
The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a fall of 4 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a fall of 4 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a fall of 31 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 9 points when the market next opens.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector was Energy, up 1.3 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Information Technology, down 2.7 per cent.
The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC), closing 6.2 per cent higher at $3.43. It was followed by shares in Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) and Champion Iron (ASX:CIA).
The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was The Star Entertainment Group (ASX:SGR), closing 22.9 per cent lower at $3.30. It was followed by shares in Platinum Asset Management (ASX:PTM) and SkyCity Entertainment Group (ASX:SKC).
Japan’s Nikkei has gained 1.5 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 2.4 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has gained 0.4 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1757.31 an ounce.
Iron ore is 5.4 per cent higher at US$123.38 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 4.5 per cent.
Light crude is trading $1.52 higher at US$80.87 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 73.21 US cents.