Miners weigh, Qantas boosts travel stocks, Aurizon falls 4%: ASX is flat at noon

The Australian sharemarket had a slow start this morning as miners weighed on the index, yet has lifted thanks to gains across the sectors. At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.03 per cent or 2 points higher at 7,418. The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 4 points.

Amongst the sectors, three are in the red, including energy, down 1.5 per cent, materials, down 1.3 per cent, and financials, down 0.1 per cent. Consumer discretionary is adding the most points, up 1.6 per cent, followed by real estate, up 1.3 per cent, then communication services, up 1 per cent. The best-performing stock is Healius (ASX:HLS), trading 4.8 per cent higher. The worst-performing stock is Lynas Rare Earths (ASX:LYC), trading 7.4 per cent lower after the release of its quarterlies this morning.

Tech stocks were the strongest performers early on, with Afterpay up 1.4 per cent, though now trading flat. Meanwhile, Xero (ASX:XRO) and WiseTech (ASX:WTC) are up 1.1 and 1.6 per cent. Across the local bourse, Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) is up 3.4 per cent following the release of its annual meeting results. Health stocks Fisher and Paykel (ASX:FPH) and ProMedicus (ASX:PME) are up 2.9 and 3.1 per cent, while CSL (ASX:CSL) is up 0.5 per cent. 

In headlines, Qantas (ASX:QAN) is up 1 per cent on news concerning international flights. Travel stocks Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) and Webjet (ASX:WEB) are up 0.9 are up 1.4 per cent as border restrictions are set to lift. Rail operator Aurizon (ASX:AZJ) is down 4.4 per cent following the $2.35 billion purchase of One Rail Australia.

Iron ore dropped overnight and its impact was felt this morning with BHP and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) both trading 2.3 per cent lower. Energy stocks are under pressure, led by Woodside (ASX:WPL), down 1.5 per cent and Santos (ASX:STO) and Oil Search (ASX:OSH), down 1.7 and 1.1 per cent. The big four banks are in the red, with Westpac (ASX:WBC) leading the pack, down 0.5 per cent.

Local economic news

Today there is an online panel participation by Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe at Universidad de Chile’s Conference on Central Bank Independence, Mandates and Policies.

HS Markit is set to release the early flash estimates of manufacturing and services activity for purchasing managers in October.

Company news

Qantas (ASX:QAN) and Jetstar are set to bring forward the restart of more international flights from Sydney, including to Singapore, Bangkok and Johannesburg, as NSW prepares to reopen for international travel from November 1.

Rail operator Aurizon (ASX:AZJ) has unveiled a $2.35 billion deal to acquire One Rail Australia (ORA) from Macquarie Asset Management (ASX:MQG) using existing and new debt facilities.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is Consumer Discretionary, up 1.6 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Energy, down 1.5 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Healius (ASX:HLS), trading 4.8 per cent higher at $4.98. It is followed by shares in Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) and Pro Medicus (ASX:PME).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Lynas Rare Earths (ASX:LYC), trading 7.4 per cent lower at $6.89. It is followed by shares in Aurizon Holdings (ASX:AZJ) and Champion Iron (ASX:CIA).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1786.22 an ounce.
Iron ore is 5.8 per cent lower at US$116.93 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 3.5 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.73 US cents.