A mining-fuelled final-day flurry saw the share market recoup most of its losses from a week dominated by worries over global inflation, domestic employment and China’s struggling property sector.
The S&P/ASX 200 rallied 61 points or 0.82 per cent to finish just 14 points below where it started on Monday. Today’s reversal broke a run of four straight declines.
The big three bulk metal miners spearheaded the rebound, with support from Afterpay and the major supermarkets and banks. Healthcare was the day’s only significant drag.
What moved the market
The ASX struggled for much of the week as red-hot inflation data in China and the US raised the prospect of higher interest rates. Wall Street’s longest winning run in almost two years came to an end. Domestic employment data came in significantly weaker than expected. Commodity prices trended lower amid weakening demand from China’s floundering property market.
Today’s sharp recovery came as developments in China temporarily soothed fears of a messy end to the property boom. Evergrande, the poster boy for the market’s struggles, averted a default by making interest payments on its debt.
The Wall Street Journal reported regulators were exploring changes to make it easier for developers to buy assets from floundering rivals. Current regulations have compounded the property market’s woes by making healthy companies reluctant to take on troubled projects.
“We are trying to correct over-tightening,” Wang Jun, chief economist at Zhongyuan Bank, told Reuters. “We should ensure normal start and completion of projects, otherwise there could be impact on home buyers and suppliers.”
Iron ore and copper rebounded. Australian suppliers of raw materials moved off multi-month lows yesterday and extended those gains today. Rio Tinto climbed 3.44 per cent, Fortescue Metals 1.94 per cent and BHP 2.84 per cent. Champion Iron added 4.71 per cent, Pilbara Minerals 4.27 per cent and IGO 4.78 per cent.
The CEO of independent equities research firm Kalkine Group suggested yesterday’s weak employment data might prove a plus for investors because it pushed back the likely start of interest rate rises. The unemployment rate unexpectedly jumped to 5.2 per cent last month from 4.6 per cent in September.
“The latest data signals a delay in the labour market’s recovery from virus lockdowns and pares back expectations of a sooner interest rate hike,” Mr Kunal Sawhney said. “Meanwhile, the data underscores the need for ultra-low interest rates as the RBA ultimately intends to push down the jobless rate to spark faster wages growth.”
The employment report was an outlier during a week when other data pointed to a strong recovery from the Delta economic dip. Business and consumer confidence both came in well above long-term averages.
“The past week has provided evidence of the strong underpinnings of Australia’s recovery from the second wave of the pandemic,” Westpac economist Eliot Clarke said.
“The NAB business survey reported a large jump in conditions and confidence… The Westpac-MI consumer sentiment survey for November also reported a very positive view of the outlook,” he added
Ten of eleven sectors advanced. The tech sector rebounded from its lowest level in almost a month. Xero gained 3 per cent, WiseTech 1.79 per cent and Afterpay 1.96 per cent.
Also strong was consumer staples as a rebound in market rates faltered. Coles put on 1.83 per cent following an upgrade from broker Citi. Woolworths added 0.71 per cent and IGA operator Metcash 0.97 per cent.
An index of Australian gold mining stocks hit a three-month high following the yellow metal’s longest win streak since May. Gold rose 0.8 per cent overnight, bolstered by hedging in the wake of hot inflation reports from the US and China.
Gold Road Resources put on 4.21 per cent, Perseus 2.91 per cent and Ramelius 2.61 per cent. Newcrest eased 1.75 per cent.
Gains among the big four banks ranged from 0.04 per cent for Westpac to 0.89 per cent for CBA. ANZ added 0.68 per cent and NAB 0.71 per cent.
AusNet rose 0.78 per cent after the federal regulator waved through a takeover by Canadian asset manager Brookfield. Written approval by the Foreign Investment Review Board brings the deal one step closer to conclusion. AusNet shareholders have yet to vote on the proposal.
A takeover offer for its banking and credit management business lifted shares in financial records specialist Link 3.47 per cent. A syndicate led by Pepper European Servicing offered $86.5 million for the division. Link said it would consider the proposal.
Buy now pay later operator Z1p Co rose 3.68 per cent from a ten-month low after completing the acquisition of central European BNPL provider Twisto Payments. Z1p said the deal would offer a platform for accessing the European Union market.
Lendlease slid 2.44 per cent after CEO Tony Lombardo told shareholders earnings would be skewed to the second half of the financial year as the construction company battles Covid-19 headwinds. This year’s statutory profit will be impacted by a restructuring charge of $130-$170 million and impairments of $230 – $290 million.
There was little resistance to today’s upswing. At the heavyweight end, toll road operator Transurban dipped 0.3 per cent.
Healthcare was one of the few pockets of weakness. Fisher & Paykel slipped 3.19 per cent, ResMed 1.61 per cent and Ramsay 1.27 per cent.
Chalice Mining trimmed a three-day surge that carried the nickel miner above $10 for the first time. The share price eased 2.3 per cent to $9.78.
The biggest float of the week landed with a whimper. Employment services firm APM Human Resources fell 6.2 per cent from its listing price.
US futures rallied during a broadly positive Asian session. S&P 500 futures firmed 12 points or 0.25 per cent.
The Asia Dow gained 0.75 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.22 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei 1 per cent. China’s Shanghai Composite eased 0.01 per cent.
Oil reversed overnight gains. Brent crude dropped 59 US cents or 0.7 per cent to US$82.28 a barrel.
Gold retreated for the first time in seven sessions. The yellow metal eased US$4.60 or 0.25 per cent to US$1,859.30 an ounce.
The dollar wallowed near its lowest level in a month, down 0.05 per cent to 72.87 US cents.