Banks, resources drag ASX lower

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Banks, resources drag ASX lower

The Australian sharemarket was dragged lower by banks and resources companies on Monday, but healthcare and some retail stocks were in favour.

The S&P/ASX200 closed 0.78 per cent lower at 6663 while the All Ordinaries Index fell 0.74 per cent to 6935.4.

ANZ retreated 1.54 per cent to $24.28, Commonwealth Bank lost 0.83 per cent to $84.67, National Australia Bank slumped 2.03 per cent to $23.65 and Westpac dropped 0.75 per cent to $21.19.

Rio Tinto shed 1.44 per cent to $118.79, fellow mining giant BHP slid 2.93 per cent to $45.45 and iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group backtracked 1.43 per cent to $24.82 despite prices for the steelmaking commodity remaining high, about US$170 per tonne.

In the energy sector, Origin declined 1.17 per cent to $5.07, Oil Search sank 2.27 per cent to $4.31, AGL Energy was down 1.17 per cent at $11.86, Woodside gave up 0.41 per cent to $26.65 and Santos slipped 0.81 per cent to $7.36 after the oil price softened.

CommSec analyst Steve Daghlian said some of the best performers were those that had been sold off early in the year, including healthcare.

Pro Medicus continued its strong run since announcing a $40 million contract for its Visage 7 imaging product on Thursday.

The shares jumped 11.02 per cent to $42.40 while Ramsay Health Care rose 4.28 per cent to $61.92.

QBE Insurance fell 5.72 per cent to $8.08 after saying a UK Supreme Court ruling on Friday had prompted it to increase its risk margin for potential Australian business interruption claims related to the COVID-19 pandemic by $185m.

Electronic retailing giant JB Hi-Fi announced a leap in unaudited first-half group profit, saying Black Friday and a jump in online sales had driven the earnings boost.

Shares in JB advanced 3.8 per cent to $52.70.

Mr Daghlian said that trading update seemed to have inspired buying in other retailers including Kogan, up 3.09 per cent at $20.68, and Harvey Norman, up 3.7 per cent at $5.33.

Super Retail Group, the owner of Super Cheap Auto, BCF and Rebel, flagged a massive spike in first half net profit thanks to Black Friday and Christmas sales.

Shares in the company, however, eased 1.02 per cent to $11.63.

Premier Investments, the retail group that owns Peter Alexander, Just Jeans, Smiggle and Jay Jays, announced director and Premier Retail chief executive Mark McInnes, the former head of David Jones, was stepping down after 10 years.

Shares in the company dipped 2.3 per cent to $23.75.

Explorer Lithium Australia soared 36.36 per cent to 13.5 cents after reporting it had relinquished two of three projects in Germany, where COVID-19 restrictions rendered work in 2020 “almost impossible”.

The company is yet to make a decision about the third project.

The Aussie dollar was fetching 76.91 US cents, 56.61 British pence and 63.66 Euro cents in afternoon trade.

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