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The ASX 200 was weaker this morning, down 28.5 points, or 0.4 per cent to 7,037.9 at midday, breaking a five-day winning streak. The decline followed softer performance from Wall Street overnight, as investors awaited key earnings results.

Most sectors were weaker at midday, with health care leading the decline. Consumer staples and industrials also retreated. Property and telecom were the only sectors showing resilience.

In company news, Seven Group (SVW) has completed its $500m institutional placement as part of its total $550m capital raise with funds to be used to reduce overall debt from $2.6b to $2.1b and increase balance sheet flexibility. Its shares were down 4.31 per cent at midday.

Afterpay (APT) saw total underlying sales of $5.2b in 3Q21, double its 3Q20 sales of $2.6b. US sales of $2.6b were up 167 per cent and UK sales of $0.5b were up 246 per cent, outperforming that of Aus/NZ’s 48 per cent growth to $2.1b. APT was flat at -0.04 per cent at midday. Challenger (CGF) is expecting its FY21 net profit before tax to be near the bottom of its guidance range following its March quarter update due mostly to tighter credit spreads. Guidance remains unchanged between $390m and $440m. CGF shares were down 14.09 per cent by lunch.

Lynas (LYC) shares declined 6.35 per cent this morning on the release of a quarterly update. The rare earths miner saw total Rare Earths Oxide (REO) production of 4,463t, +31 per cent qoq. Sales revenue was a touch weaker at $110m from $119.4m, affected by shipping difficulties as a consequence of Covid-19.

Rio Tinto (RIO) released its 1Q21 update this morning: iron Ore shipments are up 7 per cent to 77.8Mt, iron ore production is down 2 per cent to 76.4Mt, impacted by above average wet weather in the mines through Feb. FY guidance was unchanged with iron ore and bauxite shipments/production subject to weather and market conditions. Rio’s price was down 0.19 per cent at midday. Resolute Mining’s (RSG) sale agreement of its Bibiani mine in Ghana to Chinese firm Chifeng Jilong Mining has been terminated. RSG will have to repay a US$5m deposit and any interest accrued. RSG will also consider all options for the development or sale of the mine. Its shares declined 2.8 per cent.

The Aussie dollar strengthen against a weakening USD and was trading at 77.8 US cents at midday.

Published by CommSec