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Friday’s session has been rathe uninspired in the opening few hours. The ASX 200 is trading in a narrow range of 15 points with the benchmark index down 11 points or 0.2% to 6,812 around midday but remains near 11-month highs.

If the market were to remain lower for the day, it would snap a three day winning streak but it wouldn’t be enough to reverse what has still been a positive trading week for the ASX 200, which is on track to close out 1.4% or 95 points higher.

Today’s more muted moves can be attributed to weakness from sectors like financials, energy, materials and IT being largely offset by improvements among healthcare, and both consumer staples and discretionary sectors. Individually, Afterpay (APT) is the biggest weight on the market as the leader in the Australian BNPL space drops 4.1%. The big four banks are down as much as 0.8% for National Bank (NAB) and also acting as a drag on the broader market.

Mining giants, BHP Group (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are additional drags, both down more than 1% each. Fortescue Metals (FMG) is slightly outperforming RIO and BHP with a decline of 0.9% following remarks by Chairman and founder Dr Andrew Forrest that preliminary net profit after tax (NPAT) for 1H21 is expected to be in the range of US$4 billion – US$4.1 billion, compared to US$2.45 billion a year ago. Surging iron ore prices (9-year highs) have boosted its bottom line.

On the other end of the scale, CSL Ltd (CSL) is adding the most to the ASX 200 index, ~10 points, with a gain of 2.5% while Wesfarmers (WES) is rising 2.3% and adding ~4 points to the index.

In company news, Lynas Corp (LYC) is jumping 13% after the rare earths miner signed a new agreement with the US Department of Defense to build a light rare earths separation facility in Texas.

Coca Cola Amatil (CCL) is up 0.7% following a December quarter update where drink volumes sold continued to be affected by COVID-19 related lockdowns. CCL has seen some improvements in Aus/NZ at the back end of 2020 but revenue and earnings (EBIT) are still expected to fall on the year before.

The Aussie dollar is holding around 77.6 US cents.

Published by CommSec