Subdued end to the week: Aus shares close 0.04% lower

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.04 per cent or 2.80 points lower at 6791.50. Over the week, it closed 2.74 per cent or 1856 points higher.

Company news

Ioneer (ASX:INR) has signed a five-year binding offtake agreement with Ford. Under the agreement, Ioneer will deliver 7k tonnes per annum of lithium carbonate to Ford over a five-year term, starting in 2025. Ford intends to utilise Ioneer’s lithium carbonate to produce batteries for use in Ford electric vehicles through BlueOval SK on battery manufacturing JV. Ioneer is expected to produce an annual average of 21k tonnes of lithium carbonate / hydroxide over the Rhyolite Ridge project’s 26- year life. Ioneer’s CEO, Bernard Rowe, said: ”The full binding offtake agreement with Ford is a significant milestone for Ioneer, highlighting the mature state of the Rhyolite Ridge project development and its ideal position to serve US supply chain with domestic battery materials. Put simply, this strategic relationship means Nevada Lithium for American cars, and it will lead to job creation across all levels of the electric vehicle supply chain within the United States. We look forward to working and continuing to work with Ford and its partners to develop a secure and reliable end-to-end U.S EV industry”. Shares in INR closed 4.04 per cent higher at $0.52.

Insurer IAG (ASX:IAG) is on track to report $347 million in net profit after tax for the 2022 financial year, a sharp uptick from the $427 million loss in the prior financial year. Despite the profit, the company’s profit from insurance of $586 million came in with a margin of 7.4 per cent, below the company’s prior guidance of 10 per cent to 12 per cent. In the 2021 financial year, the insurance profit margin was 13.5 per cent. The drop in margin, which may worry investors, reflects “net natural peril costs” of $1.1 billion, $354 million more than initially earmarked. The company also pointed to “prior period reserve strengthening” of $172 million and negative credit spread impacts of $45 million. Shares in IAG closed 1.64 per cent lower at $4.20.

Brickworks (ASX:BKW) says it expects to report record property earnings as it launches Brickworks Manufacturing Trust with Goodman Group. The joint venture involves the sale of a 49.9 per cent interest in the trust — housing 15 operational sites — to Goodman, for $280m, delivering gross proceeds of $207m. The assets comprise 496 hectares with a gross asset value of $416m. All sites will be tenanted by Brickworks subsidiaries on long-duration leases. Brickworks says “there remains significant development opportunities and valuation upside” across its property portfolio. Shares in BKW closed 1.44 per cent higher at $20.42.

INOVIQ (ASX:IIQ) announced today that United States of America Patent No 11,391,738, entitled “Method of detecting cancer”, was issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to Sienna Cancer Diagnostic Ltd, a subsidiary of INOVIQ. US patent 11,391,738 is due to expire on 11 March 2035 and claims use of the Company’s telomerase antibody to resolve inconclusive cytology and detect malignant cells. CEO Dr Leearne Hinch said: “This application is a continuation of US patent 10,338,072 and provides additional coverage of our hTERT assay for telomerase-based detection of cancers other than bladder cancer, such as thyroid and breast cancer.” Shares in IIQ closed 3.13 per cent higher at $0.66.

Globe Metals & Mining (ASX:GBE) provided an update on the progress of the finalisation of the Mining Development Agreement (MDA) for the Kanyika Niobium Project. Globe confirms that it has received formal communication from the Malawi Ministry of Mining advising that the negotiations and attendant review of the draft Kanyika Niobium Project MDA have been consummated, following a recommendation for approval made by the Government’s MDA Steering Committee. The letter further states that the Ministry of Justice is vetting the final draft of the MDA, in readiness for submission to the Ministers of Mining and Finance for approval and signing which may take place in due course. GBE shares closed 12.05 per cent higher at $0.093.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a fall of 72 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a fall of 20.25 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a fall of 109 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 13 points when the market next opens.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Real Estate Investment Trusts, up 0.89 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Communication Services, down 1.32 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was PointsBet Holdings (ASX:PBH), closing 16.25 per cent higher at $3.29. It was followed by shares in Zip Co (ASX:ZIP) and EML Payments (ASX:EML).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Coronado Global Res (ASX:CRN), closing 8.13 per cent lower at $1.47. It was followed by shares in Paladin Energy (ASX:PDN) and Webjet (ASX:WEB).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has gained 0.38 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.12 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has lost 0.58 per cent.

Wall Street

Over the last four trading days, the Dow Jones gained 2.34 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 3.40 per cent and the Nasdaq gained 5.03 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1717.20 an ounce.
Iron ore is 1.2 per cent lower at US$96.40 a tonne.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 3.04 per cent.
Light crude is trading $0.82 higher at US$97.40 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 69.08 US cents.