The ASX was in the green until NSW’s lockdown was extended, but the damage from a 15 percent iron ore price plunge could have been worse. The Australian sharemarket extended its losing streak to five straight days, the first time it has done so in 18 months, weighed down by NSW’s coronavirus crisis. The S&P/ASX200 closed just 3.7 points lower at 7460.9, while the All Ordinaries Index dipped 10.2 points to 7725.1.
“The last time the ASX200 fell for five consecutive sessions or more was in February 2020,” CommSec analyst James Tao said. “The benchmark index fell 2.2 percent for the week, making it the worst weekly performance since the end of January this year.” Mr. Tao said the index lifted as much as 48 points or 0.64 percent at its intraday high but dipped following the daily NSW Covid-19 update when 644 new cases were announced along with an extension of the Greater Sydney lockdown until the end of September.
OMG, chief executive Ivan Tchourilov said it was a choppy session to cap off a tough week. “While some stellar (earnings) results are continuing to be announced and the long-term outlook is generally favorable, several immediate macroeconomic impacts are weighing the market down,” Mr. Tchourilov said.
“The iron ore price, which supercharged the market for most of the year, is now plummeting back down to earth. “The continued impact of the Covid Delta variant is now pricing itself into the market as well.” The iron ore price fell an eye-watering 15 percent overnight. It had plunged about 40 percent in the past three months since peaking in May, HSBC Global Research said, while oil prices fell to a three-month low and copper prices to a four-month low, with the broad-based nature of the decline signaling macroeconomic growth concerns.
BHP dropped 0.74 percent to $44.34 following two straight days of steep declines in the wake of its plan to offload its petroleum division to Woodside. Amid concerns, its sharemarket listing unification plan would benefit British investors over Australian investors. The mining giant tumbled 16 percent this week. Rio Tinto firmed six cents to $107.23 but ended the week almost 11 percent weaker, while Fortescue lifted 1.14 percent to $20.36 but lost nearly 9 percent over the week.
Mr. Tchourilov said there was opportunity amid volatility. BHP was the second most purchased stock at his company this week, behind Commonwealth Bank, which also lost ground in recent sessions. CBA rose five cents to $99.27, ANZ gave up five cents to $28.31, National Australia Bank backtracked 0.36 percent to $27.41, and Westpac shed six cents to $25.76.
Sydney Airport booked a near $100m half-year net loss after passenger numbers plunged 36.4 percent compared to the corresponding prior period. Chief executive Geoff Culbert said it had been a challenging six months, but traveler traffic rebounded strongly every time borders reopened. The company is pinning its hopes on a vaccine rollout, and Mr. Culbert says it will be “ready to go” when border restrictions ease.
Shares in Sydney Airport, which recently rejected a takeover bid from a consortium, dropped 0.26 percent to $7.70. Shopping center giant Stockland reported a massive turnaround, delivering a full-year statutory profit of $1.1bn, compared to a $21m loss previously, saying there had been a solid improvement in retail leasing activity, rent spreads, and cash collection rates, while residential property sales momentum continued.
Shares in the company slipped 0.66 percent to $4.52. Hearing products giant Cochlear sank 7.44 percent to $237.05 despite booking a full-year statutory net profit of $326.5m, a big turnaround from a $238.3 loss previously. Sales revenue hit a record $1.49bn, driven by a combination of market share gains, market growth, and rescheduled surgeries after Covid-19 shutdowns.
Cochlear declared a final dividend of $1.40 per share, bringing the full-year payout to $2.55 per share, up 59 percent. Telco TPG, which merged with Vodafone a year ago, announced it was considering selling its telecommunications tower assets in the wake of Telstra doing the same. TPG also reported a $76m half-year net profit, down $7m, and declared an interim dividend of 8 cents per share.
Its shares retreated 0.45 percent to $6.58. Bedlinen retailer Adairs booked a near 81 percent surge in statutory full-year net profit to $63.7m, driven by the well-observed trend of home sprucing. The retailer also reported it had cleared its debt and declared a final dividend of 10 cents per share, taking the annual payout to shareholders to 23 cents per share.
Adairs shares appreciated 1.9 percent to $3.76. Poultry producer Inghams gained 4.6 percent to $4.09 after posting a 107 percent jump in full-year statutory net profit to $83.3m, crediting operational measures and “resilient” demand for chicken and turkey. The Aussie dollar fetched 71.14 US cents, 52.24 British pence, and 60.89 Euro cents in afternoon trade. Published initially, the Australian sharemarket’s losing streak extended to five days, weighed down by the NSW virus crisis.