SYDNEY, AAP – Afterpay and Woolworths had greatly contrasting fortunes on a day when technology and consumer staples stocks prevailed, but the ASX slipped.

Afterpay climbed 6.18 per cent to $130.50 after making its lay-by-style service available to US customers of Amazon, Dell and other major retailers.

Technology shares fared best and gained 2.07 per cent.

Woolworths plunged 11.2 per cent to $37.75 following the market debut of its hotels and bottle shop business Endeavour Group.

Shares in Endeavour, which owns the BWS and Dan Murphy’s shops, began trading at $6.50 and closed at $6.02.

The consumer staples category rose 1.91 per cent despite Woolworths’ loss.

Healthcare shares fared worst. Market giant CSL lost 2.6 per cent to $286.61.

The major category of financials also proved a weight and lost 0.7 per cent.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed lower by 23.2 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 7275.3 on Thursday.

The All Ordinaries closed down by 13 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 7539.1.

The popularity of technology shares was evident on US markets too.

The tech-based Nasdaq was the only US index to prosper and gained 0.13 per cent.

Some have cited lower bond yields as the reason for investors returning to their favourite category of the pandemic.

ASX technology shares have climbed more than 16 per cent in less than three weeks.

However, VanEck Australia deputy head of investments Jamie Hannah said there was no simple reason.

“Some people are saying inflation is making a comeback and value stocks are the way to go,” he said.

Value stocks are those which show stable growth such as financials.

“Other people are saying COVID is still here and growth (technology) stocks are the way to go,” Mr Hannah said.

He said investors needed to be mindful of inflation as economies rapidly pick up from pandemic lows.

Rising prices can weigh on the buying power of money and investments.

US inflation for the 12 months through May was five per cent, the biggest year-on-year increase since August 2008.

Federal Reserve officials have said high levels of inflation will be temporary.

They say this is due to steep drops in prices last year, higher petrol prices as people travel more frequently, and increased consumer spending.

Mr Hannah was concerned inflation could last longer.

“This is not just a bounce back from COVID,” he said.

In Australia, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed more than a quarter of firms are having difficulty finding staff.

A coronavirus ban on immigration has stopped employers importing workers, and could help wages climb.

On the ASX, the miners helped the market limit losses.

BHP was up 0.93 per cent to $47.60. Fortescue gained 1.16 per cent to $22.74. Rio Tinto climbed 1.23 per cent to $124.36.

Westpac called off the demerger of its New Zealand business and will retain 100 per cent ownership.

Bank boss Peter King said the demerger would not be in shareholders’ best interest.

Shares were down 0.96 per cent to $25.83.

All the big four banks were lower. NAB fared worst and dropped 1.06 per cent to $26.09.

Energy shares were among the biggest losers and declined by 1.23 per cent.

Oil Search was a high-profile loser and shed 1.82 per cent to $3.78.

The Australian dollar was buying 75.77 US cents at 1724 AEST, higher from 75.40 US cents at Wednesday’s close.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed lower by 23.2 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 7275.3 on Thursday.

* The All Ordinaries closed down by 13 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 7539.1.

* At 1724 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was up four points, or 0.06 per cent, to 7181.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 75.77 US cents, from 75.40 cents on Wednesday

* 84.04 Japanese yen, from 82.71 yen

* 63.49 Euro cents, from 63.33 cents

* 54.28 British pence, from 54.03 pence

* 107.35 NZ cents, from 107.48 cents.