ASX lifts despite Wall Street retreat; WiseTech tumbles

By Millie Muroi

The Australian sharemarket gained momentum on Wednesday as consumer-related stocks and miners bolstered the index, shrugging off a negative lead from Wall Street overnight.

The S&P/ASX 200 was up 51.1 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 7172.7 at about 12pm AEST, despite a slump in information technology stocks.

Wall Street is scuffling in August.
Wall Street is scuffling in August. Credit: AP

Miners (up 1.8 per cent) were stronger with iron ore heavyweights Fortescue (up 2.5 per cent), Rio Tinto (up 2.2 per cent) and BHP (up 2.1 per cent) all muscling their way up.

Consumer staples (up 2.6 per cent) pared back some losses from the past week as supermarket giant Woolworths lifted 4.9 per cent after posting a 5.7 per cent increase in sales to $64.3 billion, and said profit margins at its supermarkets increased.

IDP Education (up 9.4 per cent) was the biggest large-cap advancer as it reported a 24 per cent jump in revenue to $982 million as international students return to Australia.

The consumer discretionary sector more broadly gained 1.2 per cent.

Shares in online cosmetics retailer Adore Beauty jumped by 5 per cent to $1.05 after the company said its sales were up by 5.9 per cent in the first months of the 2024 financial year despite wobbly consumer confidence.

Domino’s Pizza climbed 8.2 per cent after the company announced cost cuts and redundancies rather than pizza price rises to offset rising ingredient and fuel costs.


Global engineering group Worley (up 1.7 per cent) lifted despite a plunge in its net profit after it forecast higher revenues in the year ahead.

Meanwhile, information technology companies (down 5.2 per cent) came off substantial gains in the past few days as WiseTech slumped 19.2 per cent. The company said recent acquisitions would weigh on its overall profitability, but flagged a recovery by the 2026 financial year.

Shares in non-bank lender Pepper Money (down 14.8 per cent) also declined sharply after it cut its interim dividend by one third and posted a 28 per cent decline in profits in the second half of the financial year.

Healthcare companies (down 0.7 per cent) also saw substantial losses as Resmed (down 2.5 per cent), Cochlear (down 1 per cent) and Pro Medicus (down 0.9 per cent) all slipped.

Overnight on Wall Street, US stocks ticked lower ahead of two potentially market-shaking events later in the week.

The S&P 500 slipped 0.3 per cent to give back some of its rare August gain from a day before, which was powered by Big Tech stocks. The Dow Jones fell 0.5 per cent and the Nasdaq composite edged up by 0.1 per cent.

US stocks have struggled this month as yields have shot upward in the bond market, which cranks up the pressure on other investments. The yield on the 10-year Treasury eased a bit on Tuesday, a day after reaching its highest level since 2007.

Nvidia, one of Wall Street’s most influential stocks, swung from an early gain to a loss of 2.8 per cent ahead of its earnings report, one that could be pivotal for the stock market.

The chipmaker has been at the centre of Wall Street’s frenzy around artificial-intelligence technology, which investors believe will create immense profits for companies. Nvidia’s stock has already more than tripled this year, and it likely faces a high a bar to justify the huge move.

More fireworks could come later this week, when Fed Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to give a highly anticipated speech. He’ll be speaking on Friday at an event in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the site of several major policy announcements by the Fed in the past.

Based on the action in markets for volatility, traders are bracing for the Jackson Hole speech to be a bigger potential deal than Nvidia’s earnings report, according to Barclays strategists led by Stefano Pascale and Anshul Gupta.

In recent years, everything from commodities to bonds to foreign stocks has become more vulnerable to outsized moves around Jackson Hole, the strategists say.

In stock markets abroad, indexes were mostly higher. Stocks rose in China to recover some of their sharp losses driven by worries about its faltering economic recovery.

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