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The share market’s winning run stretched into a fifth session – just – as gains in tech stocks helped offset declines in defensive sectors.

The S&P/ASX 200 held onto a skinny gain of two points or 0.03 per cent after being up more than 30 points. The advance was the index’s eighth in nine sessions.

Afterpay, Megaport and Appen rose. Coles, Goodman and Woolworths were among the major drags. Casino stocks surged after a royal commission gave Crown Resorts the green light to continue to operate its Melbourne casino.

What moved the market

Positive overnight leads and rising US futures helped keep the index above water as caution set in ahead of tomorrow’s big-ticket Australian economic report: the quarterly consumer price index.

A report this morning showed Australians were growing increasingly concerned about rising prices. Inflation expectations as measured by ANZ-Roy Morgan climbed to a six-and-a-half-year high.

“Record petrol prices, higher food prices, elevated utilities bills and annual insurance price hikes are worrying households,” CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said.

“As evidenced elsewhere in the world, rising consumer inflation expectations could potentially dampen confidence, with households reluctant to spend in the near-term, delaying ‘big-ticket’ purchases,” he added.

Tomorrow’s CPI is expected to reinforce the surge in consumer prices this year. The consensus among economists is for price growth of 0.8 per cent for a second quarter. The trimmed mean CPI favoured by the Reserve Bank for policy considerations is tipped to show growth of 0.5 per cent.

A mixed session for the banks and miners underlined the lack of direction today. BHP, NAB, Westpac and ANZ rallied. Rio Tinto, Newcrest, Fortescue Metals and Commonwealth Bank declined.

The market began strongly after the Dow and S&P 500 scaled fresh heights overnight. The S&P 500 put on 0.47 per cent and the Dow 0.18 per cent. The Nasdaq Composite led with a rise of 0.9 per cent as Tesla’s market capitalisation passed US$1,000 per share.

US futures climbed further this afternoon after Facebook beat earnings expectations and increased a stock buyback. Shares in the social media giant climbed 1.71 per cent in extended trading following this morning’s report, released after the close of regular trade.

S&P 500 futures rallied 12 points or 0.26 per cent. Nasdaq futures firmed 0.5 per cent.

Winners’ circle

Crown Resorts surged 8.7 per cent after a royal commission recommended the gaming group be allowed to keep its Melbourne casino licence. Commissioner Ray Finkelstein said Crown Melbourne had engaged in “disgraceful” conduct, but should be given two years under the watch of a “special manager” to prove its suitability to operate the casino. The manager will recommend at the end of two years whether Crown should retain the licence.

Rivals Star Entertainment and SkyCity Entertainment climbed 4.34 and 1.33 per cent, respectively.

Pilbara Minerals climbed 8.13 per cent after announcing a joint venture with South Korean steel maker POSCO to build and operate a lithium processing facility in South Korea. The Australian miner will hold an 18 per cent stake in the venture, with an option to increase its interest to 30 per cent.

Afterpay led a rebound in tech stocks after the Nasdaq led last night’s US rally. The buy now pay later leader rose 3.3 per cent. Appen gained 1.83 per cent, Megaport 3.93 per cent and Technology One 2.2 per cent. Nanosonics reversed three days of decline with a leap of 9.35 per cent.

At the pointy end of the market, BHP put on 0.74 per cent, Wesfarmers 0.62 per cent and NAB 0.56 per cent.

Doghouse

Coal miners, already under pressure from falling prices, declined further after the federal government released its blueprint for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. Whitehaven Coal shed 4.23 per cent, New Hope 4.91 per cent and Coronado 3.58 per cent.

Yesterday’s best performer, Mineral Resources, dropped 7.04 per cent after reporting a 13 per cent decline in spodumene production last quarter. The company said the Mount Marion mine remained on track to meet guidance. Iron ore shipments were in line with guidance and 40 per cent ahead of the prior corresponding period.

Regis Resources declined 6.14 per cent after gold production declined sharply last quarter from record levels, as previously flagged. The result was impacted by both planned production scheduling and unplanned operational issues relating to labour shortages.

Oil Search dropped 1.34 per cent despite increasing Q3 operating revenues by 12 per cent from the previous quarter and production by 5 per cent from 2Q21. The company narrowed its full-year production guidance to 26-28 million barrels of oil, within previous guidance.

A 75 per cent rebound in earnings helped lift Ampol briefly towards a pandemic-era high before fading to a flat finish.  The petrol company logged $102 million in earnings last quarter despite lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and New Zealand.

The biggest drags in the heavyweight division were Coles -1.74 per cent, Fortescue Metals -0.96 per cent and Goodman -0.93 per cent.  

Other markets

Asian markets turned mixed in afternoon trade. The Asia Dow advanced 0.49 per cent, China’s Shanghai Composite 0.08 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei 1.81 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng faded 0.39 per cent.

Oil added to last night’s three-year high. Brent crude climbed 25 US cents or 0.3 per cent to US$85.42 a barrel.

Gold dipped US$2.60 cents or 0.14 per cent to US$1,804.20 an ounce.

The dollar climbed 0.32 per cent to 75.16 US cents.

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