The Australian sharemarket rose further in the afternoon despite a surge in Covid-19 cases around the globe. Across the sectors, 10 out of 11 closed in the green. Health care was the dominating sector, and energy, utilities and materials also helped the ASX lift. At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.9 per cent or 63 points higher at 7,355.
Health care stocks boosted further in the afternoon, with CSL (ASX:CSL) up 5.2 per cent and Australian Clinical Labs (ASX:ACL) up 12.2 after upgrading its earnings forecast. Across the sector, Sonic Healthcare (ASX:SHL) rose 2.5 per cent, Nanosonics (ASX:NAN) rose 7.5 per cent, Cochlear (ASX:COH) rose 3.85 per cent and Telix Pharameuticals (ASX:TLX) rose 9.3 per cent following its first patient dosed in a bladder cancer study.
Asset manager Magellan (ASX:MFG) recovered from Monday’s near 33 per cent wipeout, closing 4.2 per cent higher. Major banks also lifted, with NAB (ASX:NAB) up 0.6 per cent, Westpac (ASX:WBC) up 0.4 per cent, Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) up 0.3 per cent and ANZ (ASX:ANZ) up 0.2 per cent.
Heavyweight miners were among the rally as iron ore prices traded higher. BHP (ASX:BHP) closed 1.5 per cent higher, Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) closed 3 per cent higher and Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) closed 1.6 per cent higher. On another note, lithium miner Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) tumbled 9.1 per cent after downgrading production guidance.
We saw energy stocks climb, with Woodside (ASX:WPL) up 0.9 per cent, Ampol (ASX:ALD) up 2.1 per cent and coal miner Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) up 4.5 per cent.
Tech stocks eased, with Xero (ASX:XRO) up 2.3 per cent, and Afterpay (ASX:APT) easing to just 1.2 per cent lower.
Local economic news
The RBA released its minutes from the December 7 meeting. The board said that they “will not increase the cash rate until actual inflation is sustainably within the 2 to 3 per cent target range”.
A requirement is for the “labour market to be tight enough to generate wages growth” and “is likely to take some time” and the “board is prepared to be patient”.
As for Omicron, the board recognized that it “was a new source of uncertainty, but it was not expected to derail the recovery”.
Join us for Stocks of the Hour here covering AMP (ASX:AMP), Magellan Financial (ASX:MFG), and Australian Clinical Labs (ASX:ACL).
Australian Clinical Labs (ASX:ACL) has upgraded its earnings and revenue forecast for the first half of FY22, underpinned by strong demand for Covid-19 testing.
Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC) has inked a $650 million five year deal with the NRL to broadcast its 2023 to 2027 seasons. Nine will pay $115 million cash a year, with a further $15 million in contra and other services.
Qube’s (ASX:QUB) chief financial officer Paul Lewis will step down next year for personal reasons after more than 15 years with the business.
Asset manager AMP (ASX:AMP) says it will delist from the New Zealand Stock Exchange by 4 February 2022.
Global engineering provider Worley (ASX:WOR) has been awarded a contract in Canada by Imperial Oil Resources for the in-pit tailings infrastructure project.
Telix Pharmaceuticals’ (ASX:TLX) first patient has been dosed in a Phase I study of TLX250-CDx in patients with non-muscle invasive bladder cancer (NMIBC).
The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 221 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a rise of 33 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a rise of 156 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 68 points when the market next opens.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector was Health Care, up 3.9 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Real Estate Investment Trusts, down 0.4 per cent.
The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Nanosonics (ASX:NAN), closing 7.5 per cent higher at $6.34. It was followed by shares in Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) and CSL (ASX:CSL).
The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS), closing 9.1 per cent lower at $2.51. It was followed by shares in Liontown Resources (ASX:LTR) and Novonix (ASX:NVX).
Japan’s Nikkei has gained 1.9 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 0.6 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has gained 0.5 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1792.04 an ounce.
Iron ore is 4.2 per cent higher at US$123.20 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 2.1 per cent.
Light crude is trading $0.73 higher at US$69.34 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.15 US cents.