Utilities and Materials rise, Telix soars on company news: ASX closes 0.3% higher

The Australian stock market started the week on a positive note after spending all of Monday’s session in the green. Across all sectors, utilities led the pack, followed by materials and technology, while consumer discretionary weighed in.

Pendulum group (ASX:PDL) led the market, rising 18.1% to $5.29 after receiving a non-binding takeover bid from investment manager Perpetual. On the other hand, perpetual (ASX:PPT) closed down 6.6% as a worst performer.

Telix Pharmaceuticals (ASX:TLX) took the lead in the healthcare industry after announcing the commercialization of its prostate cancer imaging agent Illuccix® in the United States. The product can be ordered from 117 cardinal health and pharmaceutical pharmacies across the United States. The company also announced that it was part of a $71.2 million Australian precision medicine enterprise project, which received $23 million in federal government funding. Shares jumped 10.1% to $4.70, and the company was the second-best stock.

Major Mineral Sands Iluka Resources (ASX: ILU) is poised to move into the rare earths business after the board approved the construction of a $1.2 billion refinery in WA. Iluka said the refinery will produce rare earth oxides that are critical inputs in a range of industries and technologies, including electric vehicles. The shares rose 6.1% to $12.22.

Fortescue Metals (ASX: FMG) led the heavy miners, up 3% to $21.70. Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) added 0.3% to $120.66 and BHP (ASX: BHP) rose 0.1 percent to $52.46.

Gold stocks had a good run. North Star (ASX:NST) rose 2.1% to $10.72, Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) added 2.1% to $4.42 and Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) closed up 0.9% at $27.17.

Energy stocks climbed, led by Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL) up 1% to $33.02. beach energy (ASX: BPT) rose 0.3% to $1.56 and Santos (ASX:STO) closed up 0.3% at $7.92.

Major banks were down except for Macquarie (ASX: MQG), which closed at $206.09. Commonwealth (ASX:ABC) fell 0.8% to $103.72, National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) was down 0.8 percent at $32.07, Westpac (ASX: WBC) fell 0.2% to $23.91 and ANZ (ASX: ANZ) closed down 0.2% at $27.12.

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.3% or 20 points higher at 7,514.

What else were we watching today?

The Melbourne Institute has released its inflation figures for February. The inflation gauge rose 0.8% during the month of February, up 4% on the year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released retail sales figures for February, giving us more detail on where Australians are spending their money. Retail trade rose 1.8% month-over-month and 9.1% from February 2021.

Banks and iron ore miners were expected to outperform thanks to a strong lead in the performance of Treasuries. Iron ore futures settled near 8-month highs on hopes of additional economic stimulus. Today we saw the iron miners rise, especially from Fortescue (ASX: FMG) while the big banks fell, except Macquarie (ASX: MQG) which ended flat.

After being in a business stop, Domain Holdings (ASX:DHG) was to be monitored. Goldman Sachs has rated the company as neutral with a price target of $5.10, following the announcement of its acquisition of Realbase. Shares closed down 1.3% at $3.95.

A couple of things were noted, China was closed today and will be closed tomorrow, and Hong Kong will join them. Wall St closes at 6am for now at the end of DST Eastern Time.

Company News

Pepper money (ASX:PPM) is set to acquire a 65% stake in Stratton Finance for $78 million. He said the acquisition will help open an immediate avenue for its asset finance business, expand its distribution footprint and provide Straton’s network with access to its financial products. The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2022. Shares closed up 5.8% at $2.19.

Abacus property (ASX:ABP) appointed Evan Goodridge as Chief Financial Officer following the retirement of Rob Baulderstone. Evan joined Abacus in 2011 and is currently Chief Financial Officer. Rob is retiring after 18 years with the company. Shares close up 1.5% at $3.35.

Futures contracts

Dow Jones futures are pointing up 68 points.
S&P 500 futures are pointing up 12 points.
Nasdaq futures are pointing up 29 points.
SPI futures are pointing up 21 points at the next market open.

Best and Worst Performers

The best performing sector was utilities, up 1.1%. The worst performing sector was Consumer Discretionary, down 0.9%.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Pendal Group (ASX:PDL), closing up 18.1% at $5.29. It was followed by shares in Telix Pharmaceuticals (ASX:TLX) and Magellan Financial Group (ASX:MFG).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Perpetual (ASX:PPT), closing down 6.6% at $31.97. It was followed by shares in Imugene (ASX:IMU) and the Fletcher Building (ASX: FBU).

Asian markets

The Japanese Nikkei gained 0.2%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 2%.
The Shanghai Composite in China is closed due to the Qingming Festival.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,919.46 per ounce.
Iron ore is 1.0% higher at US$159.85 a tonne.
Iron ore futures are pointing up 3.5%.
Light crude is trading $0.97 higher at US$100.24 a barrel.
One Australian dollar buys 75.14 US cents.

Karen J. Nelson