SYDNEY, AAP – Mining companies were keeping Australia’s share market higher as most sectors were lower after a flat lead from Wall Street.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 14.2 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 6808.0 at 1200 AEDT on Monday.
The All Ordinaries was higher by 24.1 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 7088.1.
The materials sector, which includes the miners, was the top performer and up 2.31 per cent.
The price of copper jumped to its highest level in more than nine years on Friday as the Chinese economy returned from its Lunar New Year break.
The biggest losses were in the health sector, down 1.35 per cent, and utilities, 0.98 per cent.
The muted start for the ASX comes despite the first injections of coronavirus vaccine being given to Australians on Sunday.
Health and border control workers, and aged care residents and carers have started getting the Pfizer vaccine on Monday.
There were moderate moves in US markets on Friday.
Stocks closed little changed as investors sold technology shares that have rallied through the pandemic and rotated into those set to benefit from demand once the pandemic is subdued.
On the ASX, ME Bank has agreed to a $1.325 billion takeover from Bank of Queensland, believing it will create a “genuine banking alternative powerhouse”.
BOQ said the acquisition would be funded by an underwritten capital raising of $1.35 billion.
The combined group will have total assets of more than $88 billion and total deposits of about $56 billion.
BOQ shares were in a trading halt and last traded for $8.41.
Earnings reporting resumed and steelmaker BlueScope reported a 78 per cent increase in first-half profit.
BlueScope announced a net profit after tax of $330.3 billion.
The board approved an interim dividend of six cents per share, in line with last year.
Shares were higher by 0.75 per cent to $17.41.
Most miners were doing well. BHP rose 2.87 per cent to $48.68, Fortescue gained 4.25 per cent to $24.99 and Rio Tinto rose 3.07 per cent to $127.05.
Fuel refiner Ampol posted a full-year loss of $485 million after coronavirus restrictions limited travel.
Chief executive Matthew Halliday said travel and aviation fuel demand had been affected by the pandemic, leading to weak refining margins.
Shares were down 2.64 per cent to $25.79.
Property developer Lendlease posted a first-half earnings decline of 37 per cent after COVID-19 stifled interest in building development.
The company reported net profit after tax of $196 million, which included a loss of $7 million from having to revalue its properties.
Shares were lower by 0.33 per cent to $11.85.
In banking, ANZ was lower by 0.37 per cent to $26.51, the Commonwealth was lower by 0.37 per cent to $82.20, NAB was down 1.55 per cent to $24.72 and Westpac dipped 1.16 per cent to $23.81.
The Aussie dollar was buying 78.87 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 77.71 US cents at Friday’s close.