— Finance

Australian sharemarket ends flat, with potash producer and whisky distiller among winners, but miners and banks weigh

A late sell-off stopped the ASX from notching up its fourth straight day in the green, but a whisky distiller and potash producer gained ground.

After a late sell-off, the Australian sharemarket finished flat, held back by weakness in resources and bank stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 6.2 points lower at 7374.9, while the All Ordinaries Index lifted just 0.5 points to 7690.2.

CommSec analyst Steven Daghlian said the local bourse had a slow start then surged, hitting a three-week high before slumping in late trade. After being the best performers on Monday, the miners weighed.

Rio Tinto weakened 3.25 percent to $98.15, Fortescue shed 1.22 percent to $14.56, and BHP backtracked 2.04 percent to $38.39 after reporting its September quarter production results, with iron ore output down by 4 percent due to maintenance and labor shortages.

The output of other commodities also fell, but petroleum – a business it is hiving off to Woodside as it exits fossil fuels – was up 3 percent, beating Ord Minnett’s forecast by 5 percent on high demand amid energy shortages China and Europe.

It also emerged Canadian nickel miner Noront Resources had backed a takeover offer by Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s Wyloo Metals, but rival suitor BHP has a right to match the bid.

“BHP has five business days from receiving notice of the superior proposal,” Noront said in a statement lodged overnight. South32 gave up 2.27 percent to $3.88.

OZ Minerals was boosted in morning trade by a 7 percent rise in the copper price on Monday before retreating 0.69 percent to $25.99.

“Just a couple of months ago, Oz Minerals said its profits had more than tripled over six months because the copper price it was receiving for each tonne sold was up about 60 percent, so it certainly has been doing quite well,” Mr. Daghlian said. Potash producer Highfield Resources rocketed 11.36 percent to 49 cents.

Another standout performer was Tasmanian whisky maker Lark, which announced it had already secured $46.5m from a $53m capital raising to buy the Pontville Distillery and Estate north of Hobart for $40m, sending its shares leaping 9.09 percent to $5.52.

Goldman Sachs said ongoing strong demand for zircon from the ceramics industry, combined with low supply, had driven a continued rally in prices for the commodity and slapped a buy recommendation on Iluka, sending its shares 1.9 percent higher to $9.66.

In the energy sector, Woodside slid 1.15 percent to $24.96, and Santos declined 0.8 percent to $7.38. Brambles provided the first-quarter update, saying sales revenue had risen due to an industry-wide shortage of new pallet supply across the globe, compounded by Covid-related labor shortages and transport delays.

Shares in Brambles added 0.2 percent to $10.17. Cochlear held its annual general meeting, saying it was confident in the resilience of its hearing implant business given improvements in surgery rates across last financial year following pandemic-related delays, affirming its guidance provided in August of a 12-20 percent lift in underlying net profit in 2021-22.

Its shares improved 1.88 percent to $219.29. ANZ eased 0.32percentt to $28.15, Commonwealth Bank inched five cents lower to $103.89, National Australia Bank slipped 0.49percentt to $28.6, Westpac declined 0.39percentt to $25.48.

Telstra dipped 1.03 percent to $3.83. In economic news, the weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence rating rose by 1.3 percent – a sixth successive gain – to a 14-week high of 107, compared to a long-run average since 1990 of 112.5.

“Confidence in Sydney continued to increase following the end of the city’s 106-day Delta lockdown,” CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman noted.

ANZ observed spending in NSW for the first six days of Sydney’s reopening had spiked, the most vital Monday to Saturday period since January.

“Nationally, the share of shopping done online dropped sharply from around 40 percent to 30 percent, reflecting strong uptake of in-person shopping in NSW,” the bank said.

The Aussie dollar fetched 74.64 US cents, 54.16 British pence, and 64.01 Euro cents in afternoon trade. Published initially as Australian sharemarket ends flat, with potash producer and whisky distiller among winners, but miners and banks weigh

Gemma Broadhurst
Gemma Broadhurst is a 23-year-old computing student who enjoys extreme ironing, hockey and duck herding. She is kind and entertaining, but can also be very standoffish and a bit evil.She is an Australian Christian. She is currently at college. studying computing. She is allergic to milk. She has a severe phobia of chickens

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