Tech lifts, Nanosonics soars 9%, Mineral Resources falls 7%: ASX closes flat

The Australian sharemarket flattened in the afternoon session with the tech sector doing much of the heavy lifting. At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.03 per cent or 2 points higher at 7,443.

Across the sectors, only five out of eleven closed in the green. Technology added the most points, up 1.3 per cent, followed by consumer discretionary, up 0.5 per cent, then health care, up 0.2 per cent. Meanwhile, utilities were the biggest drag, down 1.3 per cent, followed by consumer staples, down 1 per cent, then industrials, down 0.5 per cent. Energy also fell in the afternoon, down 0.2 per cent.

The best-performing stock was Nanosonics (ASX:NAN), closing 9.4 per cent higher. The worst-performing stock was Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN), closing 7 per cent lower after it warned of lower lithium shipping volumes and lower average prices received for iron ore.

Tech stocks surged with Megaport (ASX:MPL) closing 4 per cent higher and buy now, pay later giant Afterpay (ASX:APT) closing 3.1 per cent higher. Meanwhile, software giant WiseTech (ASX:WTC) closed 1.9 per cent lower following the appointment of two new non-executive directors.

Heavyweight miners were mixed as iron-ore prices fell, with Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) closing 0.9 per cent lower and BHP (ASX:PBH) closing 1 per cent higher. Lithium miner Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) closed 8.1 per cent higher, following its announcement regarding a joint venture with Posco to develop a lithium hydroxide monohydrate facility in South Korea. Gold miner Regis Resources (ASX:RRL) closed 6.1 per cent lower on soft quarterly gold production.

Travel stocks fell, with Sydney Airport (ASX:SYD) closing 1.3 per cent lower and Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) closing 1.5 per cent lower. Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) fell in the afternoon, closing 0.4 per cent lower, while the other major banks closed in the green, led by NAB (ASX:NAB) up 0.5 per cent.

In headlines today, energy giant Oil Search (ASX:OSH) closed 0.8 per cent lower following its quarterly results, which outlined a 12 per cent increase in revenue. Santos (ASX:STO) closed 0.6 per cent lower as the possible merger remains. Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN) closed 8.2 per cent higher after the Royal Commission said they can keep their Melbourne license to avoid harming the Victorian economy, despite engaging in unethical behaviour. Star Entertainment (ASX:SGR) joined the rally and closed 4.6 per cent higher. 

Local economic news

The weekly consumer confidence from ANZ and Roy-Morgan was released this morning. ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence was virtually unchanged at 106.8, down 0.2 points on the weekend. Consumer confidence remains below the 2021 weekly average of 108.2 but is now 7.1 points higher than the same week a year ago, October 24/25, 2020 (99.7).

Consumer confidence this week was up slightly in Victoria, and Melbourne, as the city began to re-open from its sixth lockdown, however, was down slightly in NSW and Sydney nearly two weeks after that city re-opened earlier in October. This week’s small decrease was caused by fewer people expecting to be ‘better off’ financially this time next year which was slightly offset by more Australians saying now is a ‘good time to buy’ major household items.

Company news

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Energy giant Oil Search (ASX:OSH) recorded revenue of US$409 million ($546 million) for the September quarter, up 12 per cent from the prior quarter while the company also tightened its full year production guidance.

Global plumbing and heating specialist Reliance Worldwide (ASX:RWC) reported on its September quarter, while at the same time, announced the acquisition to EZ-FLO International.

Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN) has been given an alternative to operate its Melbourne casino under a two-year probation despite the Royal Commission finding Crown Melbourne unsuitable to hold a casino licence.

Software giant WiseTech Global (ASX:WTC) has appointed two new independent non-executive directors, Richard Dammery and Michael Malone, to start from December 1.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 47 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a rise of 12 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a rise of 80 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 10 points when the market next opens.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Information Technology, up 1.3 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Utilities, down 1.3 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Nanosonics (ASX:NAN), closing 9.4 per cent higher at $6.08. It was followed by shares in Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN) and Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN), closing 7 per cent lower at $39.89. It was followed by shares in Regis Resources (ASX:RRL) and Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has gained 1.8 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.3 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has gained 0.1 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1804.59 an ounce.
Iron ore is 0.4 per cent lower at US$119.08 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 3.1 per cent.
Light crude is trading $0.10 higher at US$83.86 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 75.14 US cents.