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The Australian sharemarket finished the week on a strong note, with the ASX 200 climbing 0.9 per cent or 62.9 pts to 7238.8. Most of the heavy lifting was done by the Tech and Materials sectors, which both snapped a three day losing streak thanks to a strong lead from Wall St overnight and a rally in the iron ore price.

Over the week, the ASX 200 index extended its gains to a third straight week, after lifting by 0.9 per cent. Shares in The a2 Milk Company (A2M) had their best week since October last year after baby milk producer Bubs Australia (BUB) struck a supply agreement with the US Food and Drugs Administration. On the back of broker downgrades, shares of lithium miners Allkem (AKE) and Pilbara Minerals (PLS) came in as the worst performers, losing 15.3 per cent and 15.8 per cent, respectively. The Utilities sector notably had its worst week since October 2020, after it was held back by shares of Origin Energy (ORG), which sank after the energy provider withdrew its FY23 guidance.

In economic news today, the value of new home loans fell by 6.4 per cent in April, the biggest monthly decline in almost two years. The average home loan size stood at $611,154. According to the
Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) new vehicle sales totalled 94,383 units in May, down 6.4 per cent on a year ago.

Healthcare company Healius (HLS) has shed 8.7 per cent today after issuing a trading update. In the update, HLS advised that its “underlying earnings (EBIT) for the year-to-date to May 2022 is in the order of $473 million”. This comes on the back of HLS experiencing “more difficult market conditions in the second half of the financial year”.

PeopleIN (PPE) has entered into an agreement to acquire FIP Group Holdings. FIP is a workforce solutions business that “[provides] staff to the food sector in Australia”. PPE says that the acquisition, which is on a cash & debt-free basis, “increases [their] participation in the food sector” and “comes off the back of a strong five-year period of growth”. PPE shares grew 5.3 per cent
today.

Shares of gold and lithium explorer Firefinch (FFX) shed 63.7 per cent after it traded ex-dividend for the in-specie dividend relating to its soon-to-be-listed spin-off, Leo Lithium (LLL). Under the
demerger, eligible FFX shareholders will be receiving one LLL share for every 1.4 FFX shares they own.

4.3bn shares were traded, worth $7.3bn. 808 stocks finished higher, 595 ended lower, while 421 closed unchanged.

In the US, non-farm payrolls (jobs) is released with PMIs for services.

Markets are shut in both Hong Kong & mainland China today due to public holidays.

Originally Published by CommSec