The sharemarket trod water today as investors wait for any substantial progress in the approval of the next round of US stimulus.
While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have allegedly made some more progress in stimulus talks, it seems after weeks of back-and-forth, something more concrete will be needed to kick investors into gear.
Our benchmark ASX 200 index rose 20 points in early action but soon pared back the win and spent the afternoon hovering just above the grey line. By market close, the index was 0.12 per cent higher at 6191.8 points.
This is despite some sturdy futures across Wall Street. Dow futures are currently up 0.62 per cent, S&P futures up 0.69 per cent, and Nasdaq futures up 0.63 per cent.
Nevertheless, gains from our resource and banking stocks offset losses on the rest of the market.
The materials sector closed a marginal 0.51 per cent up, steadied by our iron ore producers. BHP gained 0.58 per cent, Rio Tinto gained 1.24 per cent, and Fortescue Metals gained 0.3 per cent.
Interestingly, however, our gold stocks didn’t reflect a rise in the spot price of the yellow metal, which is up 0.39 per cent this afternoon. While Saracen is up 0.5 per cent, Newcrest, Evolution, and Regis Resources have each retreated more than 0.6 per cent.
Meanwhile, our energy sector was the pick of the litter today. Oil and gas giants surged ahead, led by Oil Search’s 3.51 per cent rise. WorleyParsons gained 2.48 per cent, Santos gained 1.97 per cent and Woodside gained 1.59 per cent.
Our heavyweight financials sector solidified the green finish as each of our big four banks closed higher. NAB led the gains today, up 1.62 per cent, while ANZ gained 1.45 per cent, Westpac gained 0.97 per cent, and Commonwealth Bank gained 0.77 per cent. Macquarie Group gained 0.99 per cent.
Nevertheless, our consumer stocks ended the day in the red. Supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles lost 1.33 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively. The a2 Milk Company lost 2.38 per cent. Agriculture big-cap Elders Limited lost 0.99 per cent.
On the discretionary side of things, Wesfarmers fell 1.52 per cent, JB Hi-Fi fell 1.6 per cent, and Harvey Norman lost 0.64 per cent.
The tech sector spent some time out of the spotlight, retreating 0.79 per cent today. Afterpay lost a slim 0.61 per cent, Xero lost 0.25 per cent, and WiseTech lost 0.48 per cent.
Overseas, it’s mostly green for major Asian markets. The Asia Dow is currently up 0.68 per cent, the Nikkei 225 is up 0.44 per cent, and the Hang Seng is up 0.82 per cent. The Shanghai Composite, however, is 0.4 per cent down.
The Aussie dollar is higher this afternoon, currently worth 70.77 US cents 54.53 pence, and 74.49 Japanese Yen.
Today’s ups and downs
Shares in the ASX-listed National Stock Exchange (ASX:NSX) doubled today following the company’s latest quarterly financial report. In the report, NSX told shareholders a tech system made with business partner iSignthis (ASX:ISX) will be up and running early next year. iSignthis’ John Karantzis recently became the head of the NSX. Shares in NSX closed 95.4 per cent higher today at 17 cents each.
Investors in Holista CollTech (ASX:HCT) who took their profits yesterday will be breathing a sigh of relief today after the company tumbled for the second day in a row. Shares in HCT skyrocketed on Monday after its Path-Away compound was proven to kill 99.9 per cent of the virus that causes COVID-19 on hard surfaces. However, the company has had a turbulent year, and yesterday reversed 32.35 per cent as investors took their profits. Today, the sell-off continued when ASIC announced it was placing some restrictions on the company due to continuous disclosure breaches. HCT shares fell 21.74 per cent to 9 cents each.