ASX up despite tech weakness

The ASX gained ground despite ongoing weakness in the tech sector in multiple global markets, with banks the standout performer locally.

The Australian sharemarket finished higher despite tech stocks once again weighing on the market, in line with Wall Street.

The S&P/ASX200 was up 0.47 per cent at 6771.2 while the All Ordinaries Index lifted 0.41 per cent to 7000.4.

Axi chief global market strategist Stephen Innes said Wall Street had a mixed trading session overnight with the Dow Jones index up while the Nasdaq fell as rising US bond yields continued to crush high valuation tech stocks.

CommSec analyst Tom Piotrowski said the local bourse also had mixed fortunes, starting off upbeat before pulling back.

“Once we saw the Chinese market sell off when it opened up – that was where the trouble began for our market and we really gave up a substantial proportion of that improvement,” Mr Piotrowski said.

“It’s very similar to what we saw yesterday afternoon.

“Markets throughout the region have been dealing with some headwinds because of the underperformance of technology stocks, the Nasdaq overnight falling to its lowest levels since November.”

OpenMarkets Group chief executive Ivan Tchourilov said buy-now-pay-later providers Zip and Afterpay were again among the top three most sold stocks across his company, with Zip the most traded.

Zip retreated 1.57 per cent to $8.78 while Afterpay gave up 3.6 per cent to $107.19.

Online accounting software provider Xero dropped 3.8 per cent to $108.32 while logistics software solutions provider Wisetech Global erased 1.62 per cent to $26.16.

The financial sector was the standout performer, with ANZ adding 1.32 per cent to $29.10, Commonwealth Bank improving 0.65 per cent to $87.89, National Australia Bank rising 0.83 per cent to $26.65 and Westpac lifting 0.73 per cent to $24.92.

“Banks have been really the mainstay for the market today,” Mr Piotrowski said, adding that had been the case on Wall Street too.

Westpac upped the ante in the ongoing home loan rates war, setting its two-year fixed owner-occupier mortgage rate at 1.79 per cent – the lowest on offer within the product category.

Fibre and network solutions provider Vocus jumped 8.6 per cent to $5.43 after backing a $5.50 takeover offer from Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets.

“The board considered a range of alternatives, including the execution of our existing strategy under which the proceeds of an IPO of Vocus New Zealand would reduce debt and be invested in our core business,” chairman Bob Mansfield said.

Chief executive Kevin Russell said the deal recognised the company had completed its three-year turnaround strategy.

Prime Media Group leapt 11.9 per cent to 23.5 cents after Australian Community Media owner Antony Catalano upped his stake in the regional TV company, subject to approval by the Australian Communications and Media Authority under media diversity rules.

After gold prices softened overnight, Newcrest Mining eased 1.55 per cent to $23.50, Gold Road Resources backtracked 3.2 per cent to $1.06 and Northern Star Resources dipped 1.26 per cent to $9.37.

Rio Tinto inched 0.08 per cent higher to $121.21 and BHP slipped 0.79 per cent to $48.99.

The Aussie dollar was buying 76.63 US cents, 55.36 British pence and 64.63 Euro cents in afternoon trade.

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