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ASX Today: ASX caps off worst week since GFC with more losses

The share market sustained its biggest setback of the month as investors took profits in some of the sizzling November rally's best performers.

A day after posting a new nine-month high, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 47 points or 0.7 per cent. The loss was the index's heaviest since a 97-point rout on October 29.

What moved the market

Tonight's Thanksgiving holiday in the US threatens to be a circuit-breaker in a three-and-a-half week rally that has lifted the ASX 200 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average more than 12 per cent. Trading volumes halved in the US overnight as traders stole an early mark to head home for family gatherings. The New York Stock Exchange is closed tonight and only re-opens tomorrow night for a thinly-traded half-session.

The Dow retreated 0.58 per cent overnight, losing its brief hold on 30,000. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.48 per cent as traders rotated from recovery plays back into 'stay at home' stocks. Here, buyers stayed away after the latest up-leg left bargains hard to find.

"It was a slow and gradual decline from the open," ThinkMarkets Market Analyst Carl Capolingua said. "Talking with clients, there does appear to be a bit of buyer fatigue kicking in here. The conversations I've had over the last few days have gradually morphed from "Wow, this is fantastic!" to "Ok, so what's still cheap?" It's been getting harder and harder to answer that second question.

"We've had a really fantastic run, and it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing to see a pull-back here. It will allow those who are still waiting to allocate capital to do so at more attractive prices."

Winners' circle

Dull but reliable utilities was the pick of the sectors as investors looked for safe stores of wealth following a month of extraordinary gains. The big three marched higher. APA Group added 1.5 per cent, AGL Energy 1.6 per cent and Mercury NZ 3.9 per cent.

Technology was the session's other star following gains on the Nasdaq. Software provider WiseTech rose 0.9 per cent after founder and CEO Richard White forecast revenue growth of 9-19 per cent to $470-$510 million this financial year. Technology One put on 5.6 per cent, Xero 2.8 per cent and Megaport 2 per cent.

Supermarket Coles and retail conglomerate Wesfarmers added 0.6 and 0.3 per cent, respectively. Speculators dipped their toes in gold stocks at six-month lows. Newcrest bounced 1.8 per cent, Westgold 4.7 per cent and Resolute Mining 4.6 per cent.

Rare earths miner Lynas climbed 1.1 per cent to a seven-year peak after finding more REE minerals below its current works at Mount Weld, near Laverton. CEO Amanda Lacaze told shareholders listening to today's AGM that demand "appears to be returning to pre-Covid levels".

News that Tarun Gupta will be Stockland's new CEO and Managing Director helped lift the diversified property group's share price by 0.9 per cent. Gupta has held a number of senior roles at Lendlease, most recently Chief Financial Officer. Shares in Lendlease fell 2.5 per cent.

Telstra shrugged off ACCC proceedings alleging the telecom used unfair selling tactics to sign up 108 indigenous customers to mobile phone contracts. Shares in the company edged up 0.3 per cent after it admitted breaching consumer law.  

Doghouse

Banks pared several weeks of strong gains. The big four hit eight-month highs yesterday amid optimism over the economic benefits of vaccines next year. NAB fell 2.4 per cent today, CBA 1.6 per cent, ANZ 1.7 per cent and Westpac 1.3 per cent.

A 1.1 per cent rise in Origin Energy cushioned the energy sector from a sharper decline. The company reaffirmed full-year guidance at today's investor briefing. Santos shed 2.3 per cent, Woodside 1 per cent and WorleyParsons 5.7 per cent.

The industrials sector was weighed down by declines in beaten-up recovery prospects. Qantas sagged 2.3 per cent and Sydney Airport 1 per cent.

Pokie-market Ainsworth dived 8.6 per cent after reporting a $43 million after-tax loss of $43 million as sales revenue wilted 36 per cent. Toy distributor Funtastic dropped 4.6 per cent after completing the acquisition of e-commerce websites Toys "R' Us, Babies "R" Us, Hobby Warehouse and Mittoni.

Other markets

A subdued session on Asian markets saw China's Shanghai Composite dip 0.1 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng unchanged and Japan's Nikkei ahead almost 0.5 per cent.

Oil pushed closer to the US$50 a barrel level. Brent crude climbed 26 cents or 0.5 per cent to $US48.78 a barrel. Gold rallied $3.30 or 0.2 per cent to $US1,808.80 an ounce, soothing fears about a potential breakdown through technical support around US$1,800.

US index futures inched higher ahead of Friday's truncated session. S&P 500 index futures gained three points or 0.1 per cent.

The dollar slipped 0.05 per cent to 73.6 US cents.

Hot today and not today

Hot today: Explorer Latin Resources (ASX:LRS) bolted 41.4 per cent as speculators got on-board for the company's next drilling campaign. LRS announced drilling will commence early next month at the Noombenberry Project in WA. Surface samples have raised optimism for the potential for high-quality halloysite kaolin. The mineral is in high demand in China for use in industrial applications.   

Not today: Virgin Money UK (ASX:VUK) skidded 11.5 per cent after the British banking group scrapped its profit guidance. The group - spun out of NAB as CYBG  in 2016 - reported a 77 per cent collapse in underlying pre-tax profit. CEO David Duffy said it had been "an extraordinary year of disruption".


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