Utilities & materials rise, Telix soars on its company news: ASX closes 0.3% higher

The Australian sharemarket started the week off on a positive note after it spent all of Monday’s session in the green. Across the sectors, utilities led the pack, followed by materials and technology, while consumer discretionary weighed.

Pendal Group (ASX:PDL) led the market, up 18.1 per cent to $5.29 after it received a non-binding takeover bid from investment manager Perpetual. On the other hand, Perpetual (ASX:PPT) closed 6.6 per cent lower as the worst performer.

Telix Pharmaceuticals (ASX:TLX) led the healthcare space following the news that its prostate cancer imaging agent Illuccix® is now commercially available in the US. The product can be ordered from 117 cardinal health and pharmalogic pharmacies across the US. The company also announced that it is part of a $71.2 million Australian precision medicine enterprise project, which was awarded $23 million in Federal Government funding. Shares jumped 10.1 per cent to $4.70, and the company was the second-best stock.

Mineral sands major Iluka Resources (ASX:ILU) is set to head into the rare earth sector after the board signed off on a $1.2 billion refinery build in WA. Iluka said the refinery will produce rare earth oxides that are critical inputs across a range of industries and technologies, including electric vehicles. Shares rose 6.1 per cent to $12.22.

Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) led heavyweight miners, up 3 per cent to $21.70. Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) added 0.3 per cent to $120.66 and BHP (ASX:BHP) lifted 0.1 per cent to $52.46.

Gold stocks had a good run. Northern Star (ASX:NST) rose 2.1 per cent to $10.72, Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) added 2.1 per cent to $4.42 and Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) closed 0.9 per cent higher at $27.17.

Energy stocks climbed, led by Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) up 1 per cent to $33.02. Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) lifted 0.3 per cent to $1.56 and Santos (ASX:STO) closed 0.3 per cent higher at $7.92.

Major banks were lower, besides Macquarie (ASX:MQG), which closed flat at $206.09. Commonwealth (ASX:CBA) fell 0.8 per cent to $103.72, National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) was down 0.8 per cent to $32.07, Westpac (ASX:WBC) dipped 0.2 per cent to $23.91 and ANZ (ASX:ANZ) closed 0.2 per cent lower at $27.12.

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.3 per cent or 20 points higher at 7,514.

What else were we looking at today?

The Melbourne Institute released its inflation figures for February. The inflation gauge rose 0.8 per cent in the month from February, up 4 per cent over the year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the retail sales figures from February, which gave us more colour as to where Aussie’s are spending their money. Retail trade rose 1.8 per cent month-on-month, and rose 9.1 per cent compared with February 2021.

Banks and iron ore miners were supposed to outperform amid a strong lead from the treasuries’ performance. The iron ore futures settled close to 8-month highs on hopes of increasing additional economic stimulus. Today, we saw iron ore miners rise, particularly from Fortescue (ASX:FMG) while major banks fell, except Macquarie (ASX:MQG) which finished flat.

After being in a trading halt, Domain Holdings (ASX:DHG) was one to watch. Goldman Sachs rated the company as a neutral with a price target of $5.10, following the news of its acquisition of Realbase. Shares closed 1.3 per cent lower at $3.95.

A couple of things were noted, China was closed today and will be tomorrow, and Hong Kong will join them. Wall St closes at 6am for now as daylight savings ends, eastern time.

Company news

Pepper Money (ASX:PPM) is set to acquire a 65 per cent stake in Stratton Finance for $78 million. It said the acquisition will help deliver an immediate avenue for its Asset Finance business, broaden its distribution footprint and provide Straton’s network access to its financial products. The deal is set to be completed in the third quarter of 2022. Shares closed 5.8 per cent higher at $2.19.

Abacus Property (ASX:ABP) appointed Evan Goodridge as its new chief financial officer following the retirement of Rob Baulderstone. Evan joined Abacus in 2011 and is currently general manager of finance. Rob retires after 18 years with the company. Shares closes 1.5 per cent higher at $3.35.

Futures

The Dow Jones futures are pointing to a rise of 68 points.
The S&P 500 futures are pointing to a rise of 12 points.
The Nasdaq futures are pointing to a rise of 29 points.
The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 21 points when the market next opens.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector was Utilities, up 1.1 per cent. The worst-performing sector was Consumer Discretionary, down 0.9 per cent.

The best-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Pendal Group (ASX:PDL), closing 18.1 per cent higher at $5.29. It was followed by shares in Telix PharmaceuticalS (ASX:TLX) and Magellan Financial Group (ASX:MFG).

The worst-performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Perpetual (ASX:PPT), closing 6.6 per cent lower at $31.97. It was followed by shares in Imugene (ASX:IMU) and Fletcher Building (ASX:FBU).

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has gained 0.2 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has gained 2 per cent.
China’s Shanghai Composite is closed due to the Qingming Festival.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1919.46 an ounce.
Iron ore is 1.0 per cent higher at US$159.85 a ton.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 3.5 per cent.
Light crude is trading $0.97 higher at US$100.24 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 75.14 US cents.