Tech takes materials’ crown: ASX closes 0.5% higher

The Australian sharemarket spent all of Wednesday’s session in positive territory with nearly all sectors in the green. The technology sector led today’s gains, followed by financials, while materials was the only sector to close lower. 

The best-performring stock was Uniti Group (ASX:UWL), closing 10.7 per cent higher at $4.67 following its trading halt announcement. 

Imugene (ASX:IMU) was the second-best stock, up 9.6 per cent to $0.28 on news about receiving ethics approval to commence a phase 1 clinical trial of its oncolytic virotherapy candidate, VAXINIA, for patients with multiple solid tumours.

Afterpay owner Block (ASX:SQ2) led the tech sector, up 8.7 per cent following a volatile three days, while rival stock Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) led the financial sector, up 7.5 per cent, followed by Virgin Money UK (ASX:VUK) up 4.6 per cent. 

Major banks finished higher, led by National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) up 1.6 per cent to $31.72. Macquarie (ASX:MQG) rose 1.3 per cent to $200.05, Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) added 1.3 per cent to $107.45, Westpac (ASX:WBC) lifted 0.8 per cent to $23.80 and ANZ Banking  (ASX:ANZ) closed 0.8 per cent higher at $27.88.

Meanwhile, Fisher & Paykel (ASX:FPH) was the worst-performing stock, closing 7.9 per cent lower at $23.73 after it unveiled revenue guidance for the 2022 financial year. The healthcare company said it expects revenue to be in the range of $1.56 billion (NZ$1.675 billion) to $1.59 billion (NZ$1.70 billion), which appeared to be below consensus of $$1.64 billion (NZ$1.76 billion).

Energy stocks were pulled down by Beach Energy (ASX:BPT), which closed 1.5 per cent lower at $1.60. Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) fell 0.4 per cent to $32.30 and Santos (ASX:STO) slid 0.3 per cent to $7.77 after announcing that its Pavo-1 exploration well had made a significant oil discovery 46 kilometres east of its Dorado oil field in offshore Western Australia.

Heavyweight miners were mixed after Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) lifted 0.3 per cent to $19.00, while BHP (ASX:BHP) fell 0.8 per cent to $48.44 and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) closed 0.1 per cent lower at $113.68.

Gold stocks weighed, with Northern Star (ASX:NST) down 2 per cent to $10.39, Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) down 2 per cent to $25.45 and Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) down 1.6 per cent to $4.38.

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.5 per cent or 37 points higher at 7,378.

Local economic news

The National Skills Commission released the February job vacancies figures. Job advertisements increased 3.6 per cent (or 9,300 job advertisements) in February 2022 to stand at 269,700. This maintains momentum in recruitment activity growth following the strong increase of 4.4 per cent observed in January 2022. Nationally, job advertisement levels remain commensurate with a 13-year high.

Company news

After four years in her role, Sheila Lines announced her intention to resign as chief financial officer (CFO) of oOh!media (ASX:OML). The advertising company said Sheila will depart from the company later this year to pursue external opportunities and will assist in the transition to a new CFO. Shares closed 0.3 per cent lower at $1.67.

KMD Brands (ASX:KMD), formally known as Katmandu, reported a loss of $5.1 million ($NZ5.5 million) in the six months to January 31 after stores closures and shipping delays weighed on the New Zealand-based retailer. Shares closed 3.7 per cent higher at $1.28.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 46 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a rise of 5 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a fall of 0.50 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 31 points when the market next opens.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Information Technology, up 3.5 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Materials, down 0.4 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Uniti Group (ASX:UWL), closing 10.7 per cent higher at $4.67. It was followed by shares in Imugene (ASX:IMU) and PointsBet Holdings (ASX:PBH).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Fisher & Paykel Healthcare (ASX:FPH), closing 7.9 per cent lower at $23.73. It was followed by shares in Champion Iron (ASX:CIA) and ResMed (ASX:RMD).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has gained 2.8 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 1.5 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite has lost 0.1 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1921.46 an ounce.
Iron ore is 3.0 per cent lower at US$143.50 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 0.7 per cent.
Light crude is trading $1.34 higher at US$110.61 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 74.54 US cents.