04/08/2022 - 16:03

Early gains fizzle as ASX finishes flat

04/08/2022 - 16:03

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The Australian share market closed flat after an early rally to a fresh two-month high faded throughout the day.

Early gains fizzle as ASX finishes flat

The Australian share market closed flat after an early rally to a fresh two-month high faded throughout the day.

After being up as much as 0.6 per cent to 7,021.1 in the first 30 minutes of trading on Thursday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended up finishing down one point at 6974.9. The broader All Ordinaries closed up 4.6 points to 7,207.5.

IC Market analyst Hebe Chen said that the market was caught between optimism and anxiety.

On the one hand, balance-of-trade data released on Thursday showed Australia's trade surplus hit a record high on booming exports of coal, iron ore and natural gas.

"But on the other hand, given the geopolitical tensions happening this week, the market did listen to some of those concerns," Ms Chen said, alluding to US-China strains over Taiwan.

The ASX's 11 official sectors were mixed, with four losing ground and seven gaining.

Tech stocks had the biggest gains, collectively rising 1.9 per cent after a rally on Wall Street.

Afterpay owner Block gained 8.9 per cent ahead of its second-quarter results announcement overnight.

The energy sector was the biggest laggard, falling 2.2 per cent as Woodside dropped 3.1 per cent to $31.52 and Santos faded 1.3 per cent to $7.

The mining sector was under pressure after iron ore futures dipped amid the geopolitical tension.

BHP fell 1.1 per cent to $38.17, Rio Tinto retreated 1.6 per cent to $95.30 and Fortescue dropped two per cent to $17.66.

The big banks were all higher, however, with Commonwealth Bank gaining 1.3 per cent to $101.80, Westpac adding 0.5 per cent to $21.85, NAB advancing 0.4 per cent to $30.90 and ANZ climbing 0.3 per cent to $22.78.

NRW Holdings was up 10.9 per cent to a three-month high of $2.13 after the Perth-based construction and mining contractor said it expected to announce full-year earnings of $157 million, beating guidance.

"Clearly the business has performed very well despite the significant headwinds we have had to navigate caused by COVID, labour shortages, inflationary pressures and significant 1-in-100-year weather events," chief executive Jules Pemberton said.

Centuria Industrial REIT, an ASX200-listed property trust that owns 88 industrial properties across the country, was up 3.8 per cent to $2.98 after reporting a $367.5 million full-year profit.

"Despite recording strong rental growth during FY22, Australia's industrial market continues to see robust tenant demand," said Jesse Curtis, CIP fund manager.

"Labour shortages, supply chain disruption and limited industrial zoned land have resulted in new industrial accommodation being in short supply."

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield was up 4.1 per cent to $4.18 after raising guidance, saying tenant sales at its Westfield shopping malls in Europe had reached pre-COVID-19 levels earlier than expected.

Sayona Mining advanced 10.3 per cent to 21.5c after announcing its lithium operation in Quebec was on track to recommence production in the first quarter of 2023.

Meanwhile the Australian dollar was buying 69.63 US cents, up from 69.32 US cents on Wednesday.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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