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The share market secured its first rise in three sessions as a recovery in commodity markets helped offset declines in the banks.

The S&P/ASX 200 finished 16 points or 0.22 per cent ahead after being up as much as 40 points and briefly 12 points in the red.

A record profit from Fortescue Metals helped lift the materials sector almost 3 per cent. The big four banks declined with lending rates. Altium, Nuix and Crown Resorts fell after reporting earnings.

What moved the market

The market added to last week’s tepid advance as improvements in iron ore, oil and base and precious metals boosted commodity stocks. Rio Tinto put on 3.12 per cent after iron ore prices jumped 3.7 per cent. BHP added 2.53 per cent.

Iron ore rose more than 10% [last] week as traders look ahead to a seasonal pick-up in demand for construction materials,” commodity strategist Daniel Hynes of Hynes Commodities said. “This follows signs that China will continue to support economic growth in rural areas. President Xi Jinping said industrial development is the top priority of China’s efforts to revitalise rural areas.”

Fortescue Metals jumped 6.6 per cent on news shareholders will receive double last year’s dividend payout following a record year. The miner beat its own shipping guidance as strong ore prices helped it increase full-year net profit 117 per cent to US$10.3 billion. Shareholders will receive a fully-franked final dividend of $2.11 for a total payout this year of $3.58 per share.  

Commodity markets recovered last week as global growth worries receded. The ANZ China Commodity Index put on 0.6 per cent on Friday night for a weekly gain of 3.6 per cent.

“The energy sector led the complex higher last week, with crude oil rebounding sharply, while LNG and thermal coal also gained,” Mr Hynes said. “Bulk commodities were up strongly, with both iron ore and coking coal rising. Copper led the industrial metals complex higher, with every metal ending the week up. Gold gained, lifting the rest of the precious metals sector.”

US stocks hit fresh highs as Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell indicated the bank was in no rush to raise official rates. The S&P 500 rallied 0.88 per cent to a record close. The Nasdaq Composite also ended at an all-time high, gaining 1.23 per cent.

Winners’ circle

Gold stocks glistered after the yellow metal rallied to a four-week high as the US dollar and bond yields responded to Powell’s speech. Perseus rose 4.76 per cent, Northern Star 3.53 per cent, Westgold 2.93 per cent and Newcrest 1.63 per cent.

“Spot gold prices traded to their highest levels since the end of July following Jerome Powell’s speech at the annual Jackson Hole Symposium. Powell’s comments were more dovish than the stance taken by a number of regional Fed presidents,” ING commodities strategists Warren Patterson and Wenyu Yao wrote.

“While tapering could begin this year, much will depend on data and the spread of the delta variant. As a result, the market will be focusing on the US jobs report at the end of this week. A strong number could still put us on track for a September taper announcement.”

On the wider mining spectrum, South32 gained 6.21 per cent, Pilbara Minerals 6.28 per cent, Orocobre 5.42 per cent and Alumina 5.67 per cent.

Funeral operator InvoCare swung back to profit and raised its dividend as pet cremations gained traction. The company declared a full-year profit of $44 million, up from a reported loss of $18 million in FY20.  Shareholders will receive a final dividend of 9.5 cents per share. The pet cremation business contributed $3.6 million in earnings. The share price soared 8.68 per cent.

Among other companies reporting, BetMakers climbed 8.93 per cent, Temple & Webster 10.56 per cent, Oneview 8.22 per cent, Sezzle 0.78 per cent, Adore Beauty 3.33 per cent and Aussie Broadband 1.63 per cent. AF Legal shed 9.01 per cent, Electro Optic Systems 4.41 per cent and Booktopia 5.69 per cent.   

Doghouse

Wesfarmers was the biggest drag among the heavyweights, falling 3.22 per cent to a six-week low amid speculation this year’s result will be hard to repeat. The retail conglomerate reported a Covid-fuelled 40.2 per cent jump in full-year net profit on Friday.

Bank stocks declined as Australian bond yields retreated in the wake of a dovish rates outlook from the US Federal Reserve. CBA shed 1.1 per cent, ANZ 1.13 per cent, NAB 0.36 per cent and Westpac 0.73 per cent.

Tech darling Altium slumped 14.25 per cent after pushing out performance targets in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The software company moved revenue and subscriber targets out to 2026 from original targets of 2025. The company also adjusted its earnings margin aspirations. Full-year revenue met guidance at US$191.1 million.

Beleaguered data analytics firm Nuix fell 10.8 per cent on a full-year net loss of $1.6 million. A company talked up for its growth prospects increased revenue by 0.1 per cent to $176.1 million, or 7.4 per cent  on a constant currency basis. Annualised contract value grew 4.1 per cent.

Healius fell 7.34 per cent as a charge from a tax dispute took some of the shine off a 22 per cent increase in revenues. to $1.913 billion. The medical support specialist lost on appeal a case against the ATO concerning tax deductions made for payments to doctors.

Crown Resorts faded 0.11 per cent after the company reported a $261.6 million net loss as earnings dived 77.4 per cent. The wagering group announced a change of leadership last week: former Telstra chief Ziggy Switkowski will replace Helen Coonan as chair.

Shares in takeover target Japara Healthcare eased 0.36 per cent after the aged care provider reported a full-year statutory net loss of $14.1 million. The company said occupancy rates had been depressed by lockdowns.

Recently-listed BlueBet Holdings sagged 10.68 per cent after a US subsidiary missed out on a gaming licence in Arizona.

Computer hardware distributor Dicker Data slumped 11.78 per cent after Chair and CEO David Dicker sold 2.74 million shares after the share price hit an all-time high following last week’s earnings report. Mr Dicker retained a 33.6 per cent stake in the company he founded.

Other markets

A positive session on Asian markets saw the Asia Dow rise 0.56 per cent, China’s Shanghai Composite 0.02 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.48 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei 0.45 per cent.

S&P 500 futures edged up three points or less than 0.1 per cent.

An early surge in oil faded after a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico made landfall. Brent crude was last up seven US cents or 0.1 per cent at US$71.77 a barrel after earlier cracking US$72.

Gold eased US$1.50 or 0.08 per cent to US$1,818 an ounce.

The dollar dipped 0.25 per cent to 72.97 US cents.

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