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The Australian sharemarket has faded from a firmer start for the fourth consecutive day, with the ASX 200 down 0.9 per cent to 6,651.7 and briefly slipping to a five-week low in the process. This is despite the Dow Jones hitting a record high overnight, Joe Biden’s US$1.9 trillion (~A$2.5 trillion) stimulus package receiving Congressional support and an update on inflation confirming the lift in US prices is still tame.

The declines are broader on the Aussie market at lunch than a day earlier, with nine of 11 sectors losing ground.

Afterpay (APT) is one of the hardest hit, slumping by 7 per cent and wiping out close to 8pts from the ASX 200. The buy-now-paylater (BNPL) company surged by 7.5 per cent on Wednesday after completing the acquisition of Pagantis; a BNPL firm with a presence in Spain, Italy and France. Competitor Zip Co (Z1P) is down 3.8 per cent and has shed ~25 per cent over the past week.

Iron ore miners are continuing to decline, with BHP’s 3.2 per cent tumble the most significant of the major producers of the metal. While the iron ore price rose by 0.7 per cent, this only recoups around a tenth of the prior day’s 6.1 per cent fall. One of the major steel making regions in China imposed production restrictions in a bid to reduce pollution.

While the banks had a mixed and quiet start, the majors are currently down by as much as 1.6 per cent and are weighing on an already under pressure ASX 200.

Travel stocks are standing out after the Federal Government revealed a $1.2bn package to assist the tourism sector this year. This includes subsidies for domestic air travel, with some half price flights between April and July to 13 destinations. This is two and a half weeks out from Jobkeeper’s expiry. Flight Centre (FLT) is up 9.1 per cent, Webjet (WEB) is lifting by 2.3 per cent while Qantas (QAN) is rising by 1.55 per cent.

There are a number of stocks trading ex-dividend on Thursday; however are not having a significant impact on the local market. South32 (S32), Michael Hill (MHJ), McMillian Shakespeare (MMS), OZ Minerals (OZL), Shine Justice (SHJ) and Sealink Travel Group (SLK) are all ex-dividend. Domino’s (DMP) is set to pay eligible shareholders a record 88.4c interim dividend today. This is a 33 per cent lift to DMP’s distribution paid to investors a year earlier.

According to daily CoreLogic data, Sydney property prices are back above the peak last hit in 2017 and currently sit at record highs. This follows a 15 per cent tumble in prices between July 2017 and May 2019.

2.5bn shares have changed hands so far worth $3.2bn, with 614 stocks higher, 581 lower and 367 unchanged.

Published by CommSec