Tech tumbles on Afterpay drag, Energy weighs, City Chic dresses up 11%: ASX falls 0.9% at noon

The Aussie sharemarket has opened lower, dragged down by the technology and energy sectors with only utilities and communication services a touch higher, following Wall St’s lead with the Nasdaq underperforming.

The tech sector is pulled down by Afterpay (ASX:APT) trading 7.2 per cent lower, with Xero (ASX:XRO) also weighing on the sector by 3.2 per cent.

Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) is the biggest laggard in the energy sector, down 4.6 per cent. Santos (ASX:STO) is trading 1.7 per cent lower while Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) is down 0.8 per cent.

In the consumer discretionary space, we had two retailers announce news. City Chic (ASX:CCX) has jumped 11.2 per cent at $4.97 after a trading update which disclosed higher inventory to manage the impact of Covid-19. Meanwhile, jewellery retailer Michael Hill (ASX:MHJ) is lifting 0.4 per cent at $1.43 after reporting strong Christmas results despite a number of store closures.

Shares in Qantas (ASX:QAN) are trading 1.9 per cent lower at $4.89 after the airline said it will cut its domestic capacity to 70 per cent of pre-Covid levels and international capacity to 20 per cent pre-Covid levels. This reduction is driven by increased travel restrictions in countries such as Japan, Thailand and Indonesia and is mostly impacting Jetstar’s leisure routes.

Elsewhere in the healthcare sector, due to the NSW Government suspending all non-elective surgery from January 10, Virtus Health (ASX:VRT) said they were unable to quantify the financial impact. Shares are trading 0.5 per cent higher at $6.69.

Meanwhile across the energy players, Santos (ASX:STO) is down 1.5 per cent at $6.99, shares in Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) is 1 per cent lower at $24.66 while Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) is trading 0.6 per cent lower at $1.40.

Miners are down with Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) trading 1 per cent lower at $110.55, followed by Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) trading 0.5 per cent lower at $21.30 with BHP (ASX:BHP) dipping 0.2 per cent lower at $46.75.

Gold miners Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) is down 0.8 per cent at $3.98 while Northern Star (ASX:NST) and Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) are both flat.

The financials sector is much lower with Macquarie Group (ASX:MQG) leading with a fall of 1.1 per cent at $206.52, shares in Westpac Banking (ASX:WBC) are trading 1.1 per cent lower at $21.50, ANZ Bank (ASX:ANZ) and National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) are just behind, while Commonwealth Bank. (ASX:CBA) is shedding the least by 0.7 per cent at $101.43.

At noon, the S&P/ASX 200 is 0.9 per cent or 68 points lower at 7,407.

The SPI futures are pointing to a fall of 55 points.

Local economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics posted the lending figures for November. New loan commitments rose 6.3 per cent for housing, gained 4.5 per cent for personal fixed term loans, while business construction fell 35.2 per cent.  

Best and worst performers

All sectors are in the red. The sector with the fewest losses is Utilities, down 0.1 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Information Technology, down 3.1 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is ResMed (ASX:RMD), trading 3.5 per cent higher at $34.76. It is followed by shares in Alumina (ASX:AWC) and Ramelius Resources (ASX:RMS).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Pendal Group (ASX:PDL), trading 12.1 per cent lower at $5.22. It is followed by shares in Afterpay (ASX:APT) and Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1821.16 an ounce.
Iron ore is 2.8 per cent lower at US$127.95 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a fall of 1.4 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 72.76 US cents.