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The ASX has extended its market gains this morning, boosted by US inflation statistics and a sweetened bid from Blackstone to Crown.

Australian shares are 0.6 per cent or 44.6 points higher at 7,483.50, boosted by strong advances in the Materials and Energy sectors.

What’s driving the market

US stocks were mixed overnight, The S&P 500 rose 13 points (0.3 per cent) on Wednesday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 39 points (0.1 per cent) to 36,291 and the Nasdaq gained 35 points (0.23 per cent) to 15,188.

Consumer inflation in the United States has reached levels not seen in more than a generation, keeping the Federal Reserve on track with interest rate hikes and other changes anticipated in the coming months to try to temper the price jump.

According to the most current Consumer Price Index (CPI) figures released on Wednesday, year-over-year inflation hit seven per cent in December, with price increases extending over a broader range of goods and services.

Oil prices, which rose by 50 per cent in 2021, are expected to rise even further this year, according to some analysts, who believe a shortage of production capacity and restricted investment in the sector would push oil to $90 or perhaps over $100 per barrel.

Brent crude prices touched two-month highs on Wednesday, trading near $85 per barrel.

Going up

Energy, Materials, Industrials, Financials, Communications and Utilities sectors are all up on the market this morning.

Crown has enjoyed plenty of gains (8.64 per cent) on the market this morning as it considers a higher non-binding offer from U.S. investment giant Blackstone Inc at $8.87 billion.

Material and Energy stocks led the market this morning, however, with the resources sector buoyed by gains across the commodity market.

South32 added 4.16 per cent, Poseidon Nickel Mines grew 5 per cent while FMG jumped 2.1 per cent after yesterday’s losses and BHP advanced 3.91 per cent. Rounding off the material winners, Pacific Nickel Mines is up 25 per cent, Hammer Metals grew 21.6 per cent whilst White Cliff Minerals rose 21.1 per cent and Pilbara Minerals 4.61 per cent.

Leading growth across the market was Carnaby Resources which has risen 38.55 per cent after the company announced “stunning” gold and copper hits from the first round of reverse circulation drilling at its Lady Fanny prospect in Queensland

On the Energy front, Santos has enjoyed a 1.29 per cent, Woodside is up 1.56 per cent and Ampol is 1.47 per cent in the green.

The big Financial players are enjoying gains, Commonwealth Bank is up 0.68 per cent, NAB grew 1.06 per cent, Macquarie lifted 0.37 per cent while Westpac and ANZ grew 0.42 per cent and 1.18 per cent, respectively.

Going down

Consumer stocks, Real Estate, Health Care and Technology stocks are all in the red.

Despite posting gains overall, Material stocks make up some big drops this morning. Wildcat Resources is down 27.4 per cent after identifying a north-northeast-trending corridor that extends from the Red Panda prospect to the eastern side of the Wildplay JV project in WA.

Fellow Materials players Bastion Minerals and Culepo Minerals were both down, falling 22 per cent and 15.6 per cent, respectively.

Icon Energy also trumped gains in its sector, falling 14.3 per cent while Byron Energy was down 10.34 per cent.

On the Financials front, BIR Financials is down and Openpay slipped 8.86 per cent after it scrapped its plans to buy out UK-based Payment Assist as a record quarter of Australian operations influences the company’s international strategy yesterday.

Afterpay is down 2.65 per cent after it cleared the final regulatory hurdle to be acquired by Block.

Other markets

Oil is up, Brent crude has risen 0.12 per cent to US$84.77 a barrel.

The dollar was down 0.06 per cent to 72.79 US cents.

Gold dropped, falling to US$1,824.70 an ounce.

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