The Australian sharemarket eased back its gains in the afternoon session but held its spot in positive territory thanks to gains across the energy sector and miners. At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.3 per cent or 26 points higher at 7,441.
All sectors closed in the green, except technology, down 0.7 per cent, and industrials, down 0.4 per cent. Energy dominated today, closing 2.6 per cent higher, followed by utilities, up 1.3 per cent, then materials, up 1 per cent. The best-performing stock was Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN), closing 9 per cent higher following the restart of its MARBL lithium joint venture at the Wodgina Lithium Mine. The worst-performing stock was Perpetual (ASX:PPT), closing 5.2 per cent lower.
Energy stocks powered the ASX, with Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) closing 3.9 per cent higher, Santos (ASX:STO) closing 3.8 per cent higher, Oil Search (ASX:OSH) closing 3.5 per cent higher and Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) closing 5.4 per cent higher. Meanwhile, Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) closed 3.9 per cent higher following an agreement to sell a $2.12 billion stake in the Australia Pacific LNG project. Heavyweight miners pushed ahead as iron ore prices traded higher, led by Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO), closing 1.4 per cent higher and Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG), closing 1.1 per cent higher.
In headlines today, telecom giant Telstra (ASX:TLS) closed 2.7 per cent higher, after partnering with the Australian government to acquire Digicel Pacific for $2.1 billion. Electricity operator AusNet (ASX:AST) closed flat, after granting due diligence to APA Group (ASX:APA), which closed 0.5 per cent higher.
On another note, travel stocks fell, led by Flight Centre (ASX:FLT), closing 2.1 per cent lower and Qantas (ASX:QAN), closing 2.3 per cent lower. Major banks were mixed, despite all trading in the green at lunchtime. The Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) led the pack, closing 0.6 per cent higher, while NAB (ASX:NAB) closed 0.2 per cent lower. Buy now-pay later giants Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) and Afterpay (ASX:APT) closed 2.7 and 2.8 per cent lower, while the online retailer Kogan.com (ASX:KGN) closed 5 per cent lower.
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Electricity operator AusNet (ASX:AST) has agreed to grant APA Group (ASX:APA) due diligence after ongoing talks to acquire the company, while Brookfield’s offer to AusNet still remains on the cards.
Telecom giant Telstra (ASX:TLS) has partnered with the Australian Government to acquire the Digicel business in the South Pacific for US$1.6 billion ($2.1 billion), plus up to an additional US$250 million subject to business performance over the next three years.
Energy giant Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) has executed an agreement with EIG to sell a 10 per cent stake in the Australia Pacific liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Queensland for $2.12 billion.
The MARBL lithium joint venture owned by Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) and Albemarle Corporation plans to restart operations at the Wodgina Lithium Mine, located in Western Australia.
The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 16 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a rise of 4 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a rise of 17 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 38 points when the market next opens.
Best and worst performers
The best-performing sector was Energy, up 2.6 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Information Technology, down 0.7 per cent.
The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN), closing 8.96 per cent higher at $42.91. It was followed by shares in Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) and Ramelius Resources (ASX:RMS).
The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Perpetual (ASX:PPT), closing 5.2 per cent lower at $38.83. It was followed by shares in Kogan.com (ASX:KGN) and Nanosonics (ASX:NAN).
Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.9 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 0.1 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has gained 0.4 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1798.83 an ounce.
Iron ore is 2.2 per cent higher at US$119.52 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 2.2 per cent.
Light crude is trading $0.77 higher at US$84.53 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.88 US cents.