TODAY, the ASX drifted lower after an uninspiring lead from Wall Street, with miners dragging on the market. The Australian share market drifted lower throughout Tuesday after an uninspiring lead from Wall Street, with the mining sector the most significant weight on the local market.
The S&P/ASX200 finished 0.9 percent lower at 6738.4, while the All Ordinaries Index lost 0.95 percent to 6969.8. OpenMarkets Group chief executive Ivan Tchourilov said US markets were flat overnight but would closely watch President Joe Biden detailing his COVID stimulus plan on Tuesday night.
Mr. Tchourilov said BHP, Rio Tinto, and Fortescue Metals had “all but given up yesterday’s gains”. BHP fell 2.07 percent to $44.91, Rio Tinto gave up 2.37 percent to $109.60, and Fortescue declined 2.33 percent to $20.10 despite an uptick in iron ore prices. Gold miner Resolute sank 7.69 percent to 42 cents after reporting a Luxembourg-based investor was no longer a substantial shareholder.
TLast week, the company revealed the mining lease for its Bibiani mine in Ghana, which it plans to sell to Chifeng Jilong Gold Mining, had been terminated. About half an hour after that bombshell, it notified the ASX that Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group — one of Japan’s most prominent banking institutions — was no longer a substantial investor. Another gold miner, Silver Lake Resources, backtracked 5.59 percent to $1.52 amid weaker prices for the precious metal.
Other poor performers included online bookie Pointsbet, which slumped 9.25 percent to $12.27, and vitamins giant Blackmores, which dropped 5.25 percent to $79.29. The big four banks were mixed, with ANZ gaining 0.39 percent to $28.10, Commonwealth Bank easing 0.2 percent to $85.40, National Australia Bank retreating 0.84 percent to $25.91, and Westpac inching 0.08 percent higher to $24.36.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced it would not oppose NAB’s proposed acquisition of digital bank 86 400 Holdings, which delivers its services through a smartphone application. Chair Rod Sims said innovative fintechs played an increasingly critical role in the market, and feedback suggested 86 400 reduced the time and effort in completing home loan applications.
“In an otherwise lackluster market, accounting software provider Xero is marching to its own beat and bucking the trend,” Mr. Tchourilov said. “The stock has recently pulled back around 30 percent from late 2020 highs.” Xero shares rose 2.2 percent to $125.62. Other improvers included Telstra, up 1.18 percent at $3.43.
News Corp, the owner of this title, slipped 2.25 percent to $30.40. The media giant announced overnight in the US it would buy part of book publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, adding popular novels from authors such as George Orwell and JRR Tolkien to News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers division for $US349 million ($A456m).
AGL Energy announced it planned to split its business into two, creating energy retailer “New AGL” and electricity generator “PrimeCo” by the end of this financial year. Shares in AGL were down 3.54 percent at $9.81. Despite the fall on the broader market, the ASX remains 0.98 percent higher in March, with just one trading day remaining for the month and quarter, CommSec said. The Aussie dollar fetched 76.46 US cents, 55.54 British pence, and 65 cents in afternoon trade.