The share market remained on track to complete its longest weekly winning run in two years despite mild weakness this morning.
The S&P/ASX 200 kept a sixth straight weekly advance in its sights even as declines in health and tech stocks helped drag it off yesterday’s 12-week closing high. The benchmark index eased five points or 0.1 per cent this morning, trimming its gain for the week to around 230 points or 3.9 per cent..
Today’s setback followed a mixed session on Wall Street. The S&P 500 dipped 11 points or 0.34 per cent as traders held fire ahead of tonight’s May employment report. Expectations for the jobs data were dented by news that the number of Americans claiming benefits increased last week. S&P 500 index futures mounted a modest rebound this morning, rising nine points or 0.3 per cent.
A mixed Australian market saw gains in financial and oil companies outweighed by declines elsewhere. Health giant CSL was one of the biggest drags, falling 3.8 per cent to reverse yesterday’s gain. There was weakness right across the health majors, with Ramsay losing 2.3 per cent, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare 3.2 per cent and Sonic 0.6 per cent.
Buy-now-pay-later companies have provided some of the week’s best returns, but hit a speed-bump as profit-taking set in. Openpay Group tanked 16.2 per cent, Z1P 6.6 per cent, Splitit 6.5 per cent, Afterpay 3.3 per cent and Sezzle 0.7 per cent. The tech sector was further pressured by a 4.2 per cent fall in Appen on news directors have sold into the recent rally, and a 3.7 per cent fall in Altium following a broker downgrade.
The financial sector took over from materials as the market pacesetter two weeks ago and this morning climbed 1.3 per cent towards a 12-week closing high. The big four banks put on between 1.6 and 3 per cent. QBE Insurance gained 2.5 per cent and Suncorp 2.3 per cent.
The energy sector added support on news the world’s major producers have largely honoured an OPEC+ deal to reduce production. Origin Energy gained 2 per cent, Santos 0.9 per cent and Woodside 0.4 per cent. Brent crude was flat this morning at $US39.99 a barrel.
Qantas rose another 3.6 per cent a day after announcing a staggered resumption of domestic flights. Sydney Airport gained 6.2 per cent and Flight Centre 2 per cent. Online retailer Kogan soared 8.4 per cent to an all-time high after reporting a 130 per cent increase in gross profit so far this quarter compared to the same period last year.
Activity in the services sector of the economy remained depressed last month, according to data from the Australian Industry Group. The Performance of Services Index inched up 4.5 points to 31.6 but remained a long way below the 50-point level that indicates expanding activity.
A subdued morning on Asian markets saw China’s Shanghai Composite trade flat, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng up 0.1 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei down 0.3 per cent.
Gold gave back $8.40 or 0.45 per cent at $US1,719 an ounce after gaining $22.60 overnight.
The dollar rose 0.07 per cent to 69.47 US cents.
What’s hot today and what’s not:
Hot today: Shares in Global Oil & Gas (ASX:GLV) took flight this morning after the helium prospector announced progress towards starting its exploration program thanks to the Northern Territory’s success in eliminating COVID-19. The local Land Council said exploration permits can be issued from today, provided risk management conditions are met. The Northern Territory currently has strict border controls in place, including quarantines for interstate travellers. GLV shares more than doubled in value from seven-tenths of a cent to 1.5 cents before easing to 1.2 cents, a gain of 71.4 per cent.
Not today: Anson Resources (ASX:ASN) fell back from an 11-month high after the minerals explorer was forced to retract some prior claims for its Paradox brine project in Utah. The company released an amended version of the Preliminary Economic Assessment for the project after pressure from the ASX. The exchange operator appears to have objected to forward-looking commentary in the initial market release regarding the third stage of the project, saying there was “no objectively reasonable basis” for some claims. The share price sank 17 per cent.