Australian sharemarket ends flat, with potash producer and whisky distiller among winners, but miners and banks weigh
The Australian sharemarket finished flat after a late sell-off, held back by weakness in resources and bank stocks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 6.2 points lower at 7374.9, while the All Ordinaries Index lifted just 0.5 points to 7690.2.
CommSec analyst Steven Daghlian said the local bourse had a slow start then surged, hitting a three-week high before slumping in late trade.
After being the best performers on Monday, the miners weighed.
Rio Tinto weakened 3.25 per cent to $98.15, Fortescue shed 1.22 per cent to $14.56 and BHP backtracked 2.04 per cent to $38.39 after reporting its September quarter production results, with iron ore output down by 4 per cent due to maintenance and labour shortages.
Output of other commodities also fell but petroleum – a business it is hiving off to Woodside as it exits fossil fuels – was up 3 per cent, beating Ord Minnett’s forecast by 5 per cent on high demand amid energy shortages in China and Europe.
It also emerged Canadian nickel miner Noront Resources had backed a takeover offer by Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s Wyloo Metals, but rival suitor BHP has a right to match the bid.
“BHP has five business days from receiving notice of the superior proposal,” Noront said in a statement lodged overnight.
South32 gave up 2.27 per cent to $3.88.
OZ Minerals was boosted in morning trade by a 7 per cent rise in the copper price on Monday before retreating 0.69 per cent to $25.99.
“Just a couple of months ago, Oz Minerals said its profits had more than tripled over a six-month period because the copper price it was receiving for each tonne sold was up about 60 per cent, so it certainly has been doing quite well,” Mr Daghlian said.
Potash producer Highfield Resources rocketed 11.36 per cent to 49 cents.
Another standout performer was Tasmanian whisky maker Lark, which announced it had already secured $46.5m from a $53m capital raising to buy the Pontville Distillery and Estate north of Hobart for $40m, sending its shares leaping 9.09 per cent to $5.52.
Goldman Sachs said ongoing strong demand for zircon from the ceramics industry, combined with low supply, had driven an ongoing rally in prices for the commodity and slapped a buy recommendation on Iluka, sending its shares 1.9 per cent higher to $9.66.
In the energy sector, Woodside slid 1.15 per cent to $24.96 and Santos declined 0.8 per cent to $7.38.
Brambles provided a first quarter update, saying sales revenue had risen due to an industry-wide shortage of new pallet supply across the globe, compounded by Covid-related labour shortages and transport delays.
Shares in Brambles added 0.2 per cent to $10.17.
Cochlear held its annual general meeting, saying it was confident in the resilience of its hearing implant business given improvements in surgery rates across last financial year following pandemic-related delays, affirming its guidance provided in August of a 12-20 per cent lift in underlying net profit in 2021-22.
Its shares improved 1.88 per cent to $219.29.
ANZ eased 0.32 per cent to $28.15, Commonwealth Bank inched five cents lower to $103.89, National Australia Bank slipped 0.49 per cent to $28.65 and Westpac declined 0.39 per cent to $25.48.
Telstra dipped 1.03 per cent to $3.83.
In economic news, the weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence rating rose by 1.3 per cent – a sixth successive gain – to a 14-week high of 107, compared to a long-run average since 1990 of 112.5.
“Confidence in Sydney continued to increase following the end of the city’s 106-day Delta lockdown,” CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman noted.
ANZ observed spending in NSW for the first six days of Sydney’s reopening had spiked, the strongest Monday to Saturday period since January.
“Nationally, the share of shopping done online dropped sharply from around 40 per cent to 30 per cent, reflecting strong uptake of in-person shopping in NSW,” the bank said.
The Aussie dollar was fetching 74.64 US cents, 54.16 British pence and 64.01 Euro cents in afternoon trade.
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