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ASX Today: ASX caps off worst week since GFC with more losses
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Records for heavyweights CBA and Wesfarmers helped propel the ASX to a new all-time high.

The S&P/ASX 200 came within a point and a half of cracking 7400 for the first time before trimming its advance to 67 points or 0.92 per cent at 7380.

The market passed its old high within minutes of opening following back-to-back record closes on Wall Street across the long weekend. The index peaked during lunch hour as 18 of the 20 heavyweights of the ASX 20 made gains.

What moved the market

If investors harboured any lingering doubts about buying stocks at record-high prices, they were not on show today. Commonwealth Bank and retail conglomerate Wesfarmers headed a long list of stocks trading at records. CBA, largest of the big four, rose 2.06 per cent. Wesfarmers jumped 2.38 per cent.

Further down the food chain, medical device manufacturer ResMed surged 6.84 per cent to an all-time high after a rival was forced to recall ventilation devices. Domino's Pizza delivered a return of 2.41 per cent and a new peak.

Also hitting a fresh high, REA Group firmed 1 per cent on news the online property advertiser acquired a 34 per cent stake in Simpology, which provides mortgage application tech and e-lodging to brokers and lenders. The stake will cost $15 million.

Other companies to hit blue skies included mining services supplier Mineral Resources +3.1 per cent, fiber cement maker James Hardie +1.89 per cent, retail group Premier Investments +4.45 per cent and property group Charter Hall +1.65 per cent.  Woolworths came within two cents of a record before closing 1.37 per cent ahead.

Investors took their cues from record closes in the US either side of the Queen's birthday long weekend. The S&P 500 put on 0.19 per cent on Friday and added another 0.18 per cent overnight.

Today's rally came as the Reserve Bank reaffirmed it has no plans to raise rates despite a sharp rise in inflation this year. The bank said it did not expect actual inflation to meet its target until 2024.

"A pick-up in inflation and wages growth was expected, but this was likely to be only gradual and modest," the minutes from this month's meeting noted. "In the central forecast scenario, inflation in underlying terms was expected to be 1½ per cent in 2021 and 2 per cent in mid 2023. The reversal of some COVID-19-related price reductions would see inflation temporarily rise above 3 per cent in the June quarter before falling back below the target."

Winners' circle

Joining the charge of the market heavyweights were Afterpay +2.11 per cent, Coles +1.92 per cent and CSL +1.71 per cent. Transurban added 1.68 per cent, Aristocrat Leisure 1.01 per cent and Goodman 0.48 per cent.

Bank of Queensland climbed 1.48 per cent after announcing it expected to reduce provisioning for bad debts by $75 million. The reduction reflected "the improved economic outlook".

Elsewhere in the financial sector, Macquarie Group gained 1.53 per cent, ANZ 1.45 per cent, NAB 0.79 per cent and Westpac 0.99 per cent.

Rio Tinto was the best of the mining giants, rising 1.23 per cent. Fortescue added 0.47 per cent and BHP 0.55 per cent.

Troubled data analytics firm Nuix bounced 4.15 per cent on news its CEO and CFO had walked the plank. Chief Executive Officer Rod Vawdrey will retire following weeks of media scrutiny over one of the biggest IPO flops of the last 12 months. Chief Financial Officer Stephen Doyle will leave "by mutual agreement".

An earnings upgrade boosted Sims 1.38 per cent to a three-year high. The metals recycler revised its full-year underlying EBIT to $360 - $380 million from previous guidance of $260 - $310 million. The company said it had seen an improvement in margins and scrap prices.

Doghouse

Gold was among the biggest losers over the long weekend, falling roughly $30 in two down-legs. Newcrest eased 1.87 per cent, Ramelius 2.63 per cent and Gold Road Resources 2.3 per cent.  

The battle for Crown Resorts continued to heat up. US private-equity operator Oaktree pitched a revised offer that would allow Crown to buy out James Packer's 37 per cent stake in the casino group, held through Consolidated Press Holdings. The Crown board said it had not yet formed a view on the offer. Crown shares eased 0.57 per cent.  

An earnings downgrade sent Austal down 9.01 per cent. The shipbuilder cut its full-year earnings outlook to $112 - $118 million from previous guidance of $125 million, citing delays in programs and higher costs caused by Covid border closures.

Takeover target McPherson's dived 15.22 per cent on news Arrotex Australia walked away after carrying out due diligence. Arrotex withdrew a conditional offer of $1.60 per share. McPherson's reaffirmed its full-year guidance.

Suncorp dipped 0.18 per cent despite assuring investors the maximum downside from wild weather in Victoria was $50 million. The insurer said it had received roughly 3,750 claims following several days of heavy rain, severe winds and flash flooding. The company has a full-year natural hazard allowance of $950 million, plus reinsurance for any additional payouts.

Uranium stocks plunged following reports of problems at a Chinese reactor. Paladin Energy sank 12.17 per cent, Deep Yellow 6.11 per cent and Boss Energy 5.41 per cent.  

Other markets

US futures showed no nerves ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting that may set the tone on global equity and bond markets for the foreseeable future. S&P 500 futures rose seven points or 0.17 per cent.

Asian markets were mixed as trade resumed after long weekends in several countries. The Asia Dow rallied 0.57 per cent. China's Shanghai Composite shed 0.67 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng 0.69 per cent. Japan's Nikkei gained 1.04 per cent.

Gold trimmed two days of declines, bouncing $1.40 or 0.08 per cent to US$1,867.30 an ounce.

Oil probed fresh two-year highs. Brent crude rose 21 cents or 0.29 per cent to US$73.09 a barrel.

The dollar edged up 0.04 per cent to 77.14 US cents.

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