ASX Close: Tech stocks spur market to afternoon reversal

With fears of a New South Wales lockdown beginning to mount, the Australian share market had a tough day today as consumer confidence continues to slip.

A new outbreak of COVID-19 spawning from Sydney's Crossroads Hotel was revealed this week, with 11 venues now linked to at least 21 infections. The state has already introduced tougher pub rules, but with Victoria re-entering stage three lockdowns just last week, investors are getting nervous that NSW could be headed the same way.

The ASX 200 index had a rough morning which just got worse after a failed mid-afternoon comeback. By the end of the day, the index was lower by 0.61 per cent at 5941.1 points — shaving off more than half of yesterday's 58-point rally.

The tech sector was the market anchor today following a 2.13 per cent overnight decline on America's NASDAQ. It seems reality finally caught up to buy now, pay later darling Afterpay, which has casually increased its share price by some $60 over the past three months. Today, the tech giant slipped 7.23 per cent to $66.55 per share. Xero lost 4.4 per cent, Computershare 1.36 per cent, and NEXTDC 3.54 per cent.

The utilities sector was next in line, with APA Group down 1.62 per cent and AGL Energy down 0.69 per cent. Mercury NZ managed to hold on to a 2.21 per cent win, but it wasn't enough to offset the wider losses across the sector.

As for our market heavyweights, neither the financials nor the materials sector was able to touch green today.

Our big four banks led the attempted lunchtime comeback, but the dream was short-lived. ANZ ended up closing 1.18 per cent lower, with Westpac down by 0.78 per cent. Commonwealth Bank lost 0.54 per cent and NAB lost 0.39 per cent.

Meanwhile, our iron ore giants kept the worst of the materials losses at bay with Rio Tinto tacking on a healthy 1.41 per cent. Fortescue gained 0.98 per cent and BHP gained 0.3 per cent. Nevertheless, gold stocks dragged the sector down after a slight decline of the yellow metal's spot price. Newcrest lost 2.46 per cent, Northern Star lost 2.29 per cent, and Evolution Mining lost 2.12 per cent.

It's just as sad a day for our eastern neighbours as all major Asian indexes sit red this afternoon. Japan's Nikkei 225 is suffering the lightest loss, down 0.87 per cent, while the Asia Dow, Hang Seng, and Shanghai Composite are each lower by between 1.01 and 1.08 per cent.

The Aussie dollar is stronger today, however, currently buying 69.48 US cents, 55.39 pence, and 74.58 Japanese Yen.

Today's ups and downs

While it's been a generally bleak day for tech stocks, massive 3D data specialist Pointerra (ASX:3DP) flexed some chunky gains after tech entrepreneur Bevan Slattery took an interest in the company, quite literally. The high-profile investor will snap up 50 million shares for $2.5 million at a marginally-discounted price of five cents a pop. On the back of the news, Pointerra shares gained 72.22 per cent to close at 9.3 cents each.

Junior explorer Constellation Resources (ASX:CR1) tumbled upon releasing results from an aircore drilling program at its Fraser Range tenement. While the nickel, copper, and cobalt results weren't necessarily bad, they weren't necessarily great either. In such a volatile market, it seems just fine won't cut it with investors, with CR1's share price declining in value by 25 per cent to close at 33 cents per share.


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