Home Finance ASX dips: Travel, retail weak but Fortescue jumps

ASX dips: Travel, retail weak but Fortescue jumps

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The ASX eased despite a positive US lead, with retailers and travel stocks among the laggards, but Fortescue rose amid high iron ore prices. The Australian sharemarket dipped after battling to find inspiration, with retailers and travel stock among the laggards. ON MONDAY, the S&P/ASX200 closed 0.21 percent lower at 7045.6 while the All Ordinaries Index slid 0.18 percent to 7307.8.

CommSec analyst James Tao said the local bourse made a flat start to the trading week as it struggled for direction despite a pretty substantial lead from Wall Street. The resources sector was a good performer, with gains from iron ore miner Fortescue aid high prices. Fortescue surged 4.8 percent to $22.70, Rio Tinto added 1.12 percent to $122.51, and BHP firmed 0.59 percent to $47.84.

ANZ inched one cent higher to $28.69, and National Australia Bank appreciated 0.76 percent to $26.66, but Westpac declined 0.16 percent to $25.08, but Commonwealth Bank slipped 0.38 percent to $89.05. Westpac announced it expected a $282m hit to first-half cash earnings due to notable items, including additional provisions for customer refunds and litigation.

Retailers weighed on the market, with JB Hi-Fi dropping 4.05 percent to $48.11, Kogan retreating 4.12 percent to $10.25, and Harvey Norman backtracking 2.53 percent to $5.39. On Friday, Kogan sparked a sell-off in the consumer discretionary sector after saying customer demand fluctuated in the March quarter below the levels seen in the prior nine months – sparking fears the online shopping boom had already peaked.

Travel

Woolworths slid 0.85 percent to $41.88, and fellow supermarket giant Coles eased 0.45 percent to $15.64. Vitamins giant Blackmores lost 4.64 percent to $72 after falling by 11 percent last week when it flagged ongoing lower sales to all-important Chinese customers “well into 2022 until regular international travel resumes”.

Another company heavily reliant on China, infant formula maker a2 Milk, fell to a fresh three-year low before closing at $7.15, down 3.12 percent. Travel stocks were weaker, with Corporate Travel Management declining 3.3 percent to $19.62, Qantas softening 1.2 percent to $4.93, Webjet shedding 0.96 percent to $5.17, and Flight Centre giving up 2.61 percent to $17.51. Health insurer nib Holdings provided an update, saying its core business was performing well.

“The extent of ‘catch-up’ in the third quarter in healthcare treatment deferred during the COVID lockdown periods appears at this stage to be slower than that assumed at 31 December 2020,” the company said. It also offered a full-year underlying operating profit forecast within the range of $200m to $225m, up from about $150m for the previous financial year. Shares in nib Holdings jumped 10.2 percent to $5.94.

Real estate business McGrath reported it expects underlying EBITDA for 2020-21 in the range of $16.5m to $17.5m, compared with $3.7m previously. “The strength in the residential property market continued throughout the third quarter,” chief executive Eddie Law said. “The combination of improving business and consumer sentiment, low-interest record rates and lower stock levels in the market, has driven strong price growth in recent months.”

McGrath shares gained 6.15 percent to 69 cents. Pharmacy giant Sigma Healthcare advised Mark Hooper had tendered his resignation after almost 11 years as managing director and chief executive and expected to leave the business by October. Chairman Ray Gunston said Mr. Hooper undertook the most significant transformation in the company’s history but sought other opportunities. Shares in Sigma slipped 1.45 percent to 68 cents. The Aussie dollar fetched 77.69 US cents, 55.89 British pence, and 64.13 Euro cents in afternoon trade.

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