SYDNEY, AAP – Miners and energy companies were keeping the Australian share market even as most sectors dropped, while a coronavirus lockdown has been declared for Brisbane.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was down 2.4 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 6821.8 at 1200 AEDT on Monday.
The All Ordinaries was lower by 4.2 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 7058.9.
The materials sector was up 1.14 per cent, while the energy sector rose 1.02 per cent.
The latter sector is being affected by efforts to free a container ship blocking the Suez Canal.
The ship, which ran aground last week, has caused problems for oil transportation.
Reuters reported about a million barrels of oil were being delayed each day, and more than 300 vessels were waiting to pass through the route.
The sector with the biggest losses was information technology, down 1.56 per cent. Consumer discretionaries and telecommunications were also down by more than one per cent.
In Australia, travel companies were scrambling to check the implications of a three-day lockdown for Brisbane, starting from 1700 AEDT.
Four new cases of community transmission were declared on Monday, after the first person in the cluster tested positive last week. There have been seven cases.
Qantas was down 0.58 per cent to $5.08.
The ASX had a good lead from Wall Street, which rallied on Friday due to signs of economic recovery and improving coronavirus vaccination rates.
REA Group has proposed to buy brokers Mortgage Choice for $1.95 per share, or $244 million.
The Mortgage Choice board has recommended shareholders vote in favour of the scheme.
Mortgage Choice has a loan book of $54 billion and reported a net profit after tax of $4.1 million for the six months to December.
REA shares were down 1.85 per cent to $137.46.
Mortgage Choice shares were up 62.12 per cent to $1.90.
AMP has so far been unable to sell its private markets business to US-based Ares Management Corporation, after a preliminary agreement lapsed.
The wealth manager on Monday said a 30-day heads of agreement with Ares to sell AMP Capital’s markets business had concluded.
The two businesses continue working on a sale.
Shares were down 1.48 per cent to $1.32.
Gambling group Tabcorp said it would review its ownership options after recent offers for its wagering and media business were too low.
The business said options included selling the wagering and media business, as well as a demerger.
The recent offers were for about $3 billion.
Shares were down 1.86 per cent to $4.73.
Big miners were doing well. BHP, Fortescue and Rio Tinto each rose by more than one per cent.
South32 was a notable improver and rose 3.09 per cent to $2.83.
In banking, there was little movement among the big four. The Commonwealth Bank was the only member to decline, by 0.23 per cent to $85.80.
The Australian dollar was buying 76.24 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 76.14 US cents at Friday’s close.