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The share market gave up most of its early gains as overseas crosswinds overshadowed Saturday’s federal election result.

The S&P/ASX 200 gained as much as 50 points in early action before trimming its advance to three points or 0.05 per cent.

The rally ran out of puff after record Covid cases in Beijing sharpened fears of a Shanghai-style lockdown in China’s capital.

Gains in mining and energy stocks helped offset declines across the wider market. Utilities and financials were the biggest drags.

What moved the market

A post-election relief rally peaked mid-morning when major trading partner China released concerning Covid figures. While 94 new cases in 24 hours in a city of 21.5 million people might sound insignificant, the government’s zero-Covid policy means any increase triggers alarms.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng per cent slumped 1.25 per cent. China’s Shanghai Composite gave up 0.17 per cent.

Residents in several Beijing suburbs were asked to work from home until May 28 as authorities worked to avoid a full lockdown. Another round of mass testing was ordered.

The news helped erase early gains as US futures surged and investors appeared to take Saturday’s election result in their stride. Economists from AMP and CommSec both noted the market’s tendency to rise after the conclusion of federal elections, irrespective of the winner. 

“Since the 1980s there has been a tendency for Australian shares to rise after elections, as uncertainty is removed,” AMP’s chief economist Dr Shane Oliver said.

CommSec chief economist Craig James said, “In the 11 elections held since 1990, the All Ordinaries Index climbed by an average of 1.2 per cent in the 15 trading days after poll date. In fact, the All Ordinaries Index has risen in the 15 trading days following every one of the eight federal elections held since 1998.”

Dr Oliver said a key feature of this year’s election was the similarity of the economic platforms of the two major parties.

“Labor’s macro policies not being significantly different from the Coalition’s and its victory not being a surprise suggests that the market reaction to the new Government will be minor and that investment markets will quickly move on to other things. So far that seems to be the case,” AMP’s chief economist Dr Shane Oliver said.

S&P 500 futures were lately up 43 points or 1.1 per cent on reports the White House was reviewing Trump-era tariffs on China.

The recovery overshadowed a mixed finish on Friday. The S&P 500 finished 0.01 per cent ahead after briefly falling as much as 2.3 per cent into bear market territory. The Nasdaq dipped 0.3 per cent. 

Winners’ circle

Positive developments in China at the end of last week kept mining and energy stocks on the rise. The People’s Bank cut a key lending rate. Shanghai started to lift Covid restrictions and over the weekend resumed some public transport.

Fortescue Metals climbed 2.78 per cent. BHP firmed 1.38 per cent, Santos 1.24 per cent, Rio Tinto 1.06 per cent and Woodside 0.49 per cent.

Military communications and metal detection business Codan was the session’s best performer, rising 14.52 per cent after forecasting a record full-year profit. The board said it now expects the second half to match a record $50 million first-half profit.

The Elders share price hit a decade high as the agribusiness continued to reap the benefits of favourable cropping conditions. A strong first half encouraged the company to raise its full-year underlying earnings forecast to growth of 30-40 per cent.

First-half earnings bounced 80 per cent amid growing demand for fertilisers and crop protection. The share price soared 8.91 per cent to a level last seen in 2009.

Imugene rallied 12.5 per cent after the board reassured shareholders the biotech was financially secure and its development pipeline remained strong. Investors have endured a challenging year as the share price fell from above 60 cents to as little as 15 cents this month.

“Imugene is as strong as it has ever been in its history,” Executive Chair Paul Hopper and CEO Leslie Chong said in a joint letter to shareholders.   

The Star Entertainment Group firmed 0.32 per cent following the resignation of John O’Neill as Executive Chair. Ben Heap will act as interim Chair. Geoff Hogg will act as CEO following the resignation of Matt Bekier in March as the company battled accusations it failed to meet regulatory obligations.

Doghouse

Incitec Pivot faded 3.74 per cent after reporting a record first half and announcing plans to split its fertiliser and explosives businesses into separate listed companies. First-half profit jumped to $384 million from $36 million in 1H21. The result was overshadowed by a proposal to restructure into Dyno Nobel (containing the explosives business) and Incitec Pivot Fertilisers.

“The synergy of sharing an ammonia manufacturing core has become less meaningful,” Managing Director and CEO Jeanne Johns said.

The defensive utilities sector has been one of this year’s best performers as investors sought havens from wider market volatility. The sector dropped 0.6 per cent this morning as traders booked profits in APA Group -1.41 per cent and AGL -0.46 per cent.

The financial sector lost ground steadily after a positive start. NAB drifted 0.93 per cent, ANZ 0.75 per cent, Westpac 0.68 per cent and CBA 0.1 per cent.

Other heavyweight drags included Woolworths -1.92 per cent, Wesfarmers -1.22 per cent and Goodman Group -1.08 per cent.

Other markets

Oil added to Friday’s gains. Brent crude climbed US$1.21 or 1.1 per cent to US$113.76 a barrel.

Gold rallied US$13.50 or 0.7 per cent to US$1,855.60 an ounce.

The dollar firmed 0.82 per cent to 71.19 US cents.

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