ASX up with materials the big winners

The ASX finished higher after a positive lead from Wall Street, with energy stocks rising following an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

The Australian sharemarket started the trading week on a positive note, with materials stocks the big winners.

The S&P/ASX200 closed 0.43 per cent higher at 6739.6 while the All Ordinaries Index added 0.41 per cent to 6971.6.

OpenMarkets Group chief executive Ivan Tchourilov said the ASX opened strongly after a positive lead from Wall Street but gave back about half of its earlier gains.

Rio Tinto advanced 2.92 per cent to $121.11, BHP rose 2.38 per cent to $49.38 and Fortescue Metals Group lifted 0.5 per cent to $22.21 amid reports it had cancelled some construction contracts at its Iron Bridge project in WA after a cost blowout that caused chief operating officer Greg Lilleyman and two other executives to resign.

Other big gains in the resources sector were by gold miners Silver Lake Resources, which jumped 6.01 per cent to $1.50, and Ramelius Resources, which appreciated 4.38 per cent to $1.43.

Energy stocks rose after Brent crude broke $US70 per barrel after an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

Beach Energy gained 4.12 per cent to $1.77, Woodside Petroleum firmed 0.79 per cent to $25.66, Origin Energy found 1.78 per cent to $4.57 and Oil Search strengthened 3.39 per cent to $4.57.

Santos bucked the trend, falling 2.71 per cent to $7.55, after announcing Chinese energy group ENN had sold a 5.14 per cent interest in the oil and gas producer at $7.33 per share.

“ENN has advised Santos that it remains fully supportive of Santos’s strategy and future direction and is excited to remain Santos’s largest individual shareholder with a 9.97 per cent stake,” the company said.

As a result of the reduced shareholding, Santos’s 2017 strategic relationship agreement with ENN is no longer effective and its board nominee Eugene Shi will resign.

Woolworths put on 0.54 per cent to $39.16 but Coles was unchanged at $15.50.

Among consumer discretionary stocks, Harvey Norman gained 2.5 per cent to $5.33 and JB Hi-Fi improved 1.43 per cent to $45.98 but online retailer Kogan dropped 5.03 per cent to $13.03 while Bunnings owner Wesfarmers jumped 0.5 per cent higher to $49.28.

A strong performer was Treasury Wine Estates, up 6.4 per cent at $10.97.

Selling in buy-now-pay-later stocks continued, a recent trend seen in tech stocks with a longer term growth outlook as bond yields creep higher.

Afterpay retreated 3.64 per cent to $111.20 while Zip Co shed 6.7 per cent to $8.92.

“Both stocks are now more than 30 per cent below the highs they reached in February which would normally be a significant correction,” Mr Tchourilov said.

“When you put it into perspective though, these stocks have incurred over 1000 per cent gains in just a few years so 30 per cent really isn’t that much.

“The question is whether this is the start of a bigger correction, or just some healthy profit taking.”

Douugh Ltd was steady at 20 cents after announcing an affiliate marketing partnership with Japanese cashback online marketplace Rakuten.

ANZ slid 0.42 per cent to $28.72, Commonwealth Bank rose 1.01 per cent to $87.32, National Australia Bank inched 0.15 per cent higher to $26.43 and Westpac lost 0.52 per cent to $24.74.

The Aussie dollar was buying 77.15 US cents, 55.73 British pence and 64.73 Euro cents in afternoon trade.

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