ASX scrapes higher for sixth straight day

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ASX scrapes higher for sixth straight day

The Australian sharemarket scraped higher for a sixth straight day despite a largely negative lead from Wall Street as coronavirus infections swept across US states.

The S&P/ASX200 finished 0.19 per cent firmer at 6687.7 while the All Ordinaries Index rose the same amount to 6922.2.

Axi chief global market strategist Stephen Innes said the spike in cases in the US was triggering fears of more restrictions after California introduced new lockdown rules over the weekend and hospitalisations reached a new record.

“But it’s the Brexit knife-edge that carries this week’s worry baton,” Mr Innes said.

“The EU’s chief negotiator has suggested Wednesday is shaping up as a hard deadline for talks.”

CommSec analyst James Tao said the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the US fell back from record peaks reached the previous session, but the NASDAQ hit all-time highs, which helped lift Australia’s tech sector.

The standout performer was Link Group, which received a takeover bid from a NASDAQ-listed US company late on Monday of $5.65 per share.

Shares in Link, which provides fund administration and transfer agency services, soared 13.7 per cent to $5.64.

Ready-made meals provider Youfoodz Holdings had a dismal ASX debut after raising $70 million at an issue price of $1.50 per share, closing at just $1.05 on Tuesday.

Another big loser was G8 Education, which reported it had inadvertently underpaid some staff, with the make-good costs estimated to be up to $80 million.

Its shares slumped 6.59 per cent to $1.20.

Bedding retailer Adairs reported a near doubling in online sales for the financial year to date and forecast first half underlying group earnings before interest and tax would nearly treble.

Shares in the company lifted 2.8 per cent to $3.31.

Cinemas and theme park operator Village Roadshow added 2.75 per cent to $2.99 after reporting shareholders had voted in favour of a takeover by private equity firm BGH Capital.

Iron ore miners pulled back slightly after surging on Monday as the price of the steelmaking commodity hit March 2013 highs.

Rio Tinto dipped 1.02 per cent to $114.80, BHP eased 0.28 per cent to $42.27 and Fortescue softened 0.23 per cent to $21.34.

Fortescue hit an all-time high on Monday and at one stage in intraday trade eclipsed the market capitalisation of big four bank ANZ.

Energy stocks were weaker after the oil price slipped, with Origin losing 1.33 per cent to $5.20, Oil Search shedding 1.84 per cent to $3.74 and Santos dropping 1.75 per cent to $6.46.

Woodside Petroleum announced chairman Peter Coleman would retire in the second half of 2021 after serving more than 10 years in the role, saying the timing ensured continuity to support an investment decision for the Scarborough gas project off WA.

Woodside shares were down 0.35 per cent at $23.07.

ANZ put on 0.26 per cent to $23.40, Commonwealth Bank advanced 1.24 per cent to $81.74 and National Australia Bank inched 0.13 per cent higher to $23.28 but Westpac backtracked 0.69 per cent to $20.13.

The Aussie dollar was fetching 74.26 US cents, 55.57 British pence and 61.26 Euro cents in afternoon trade.

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