Mining and energy stocks drag ASX lower

By Sumeyya Ilanbey

Mining and energy stocks dragged the Australian sharemarket lower following a sharp drop overnight in iron ore prices.

The S&P/ASX 200 fell 6.3 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 7658.8 about 10.40am. The only sectors trading in the green were financials (up 0.48 per cent), communication services (up 0.78 per cent) and real estate investment trusts (up 0.69 per cent).

The ASX is lower in early trade on Tuesday.
The ASX is lower in early trade on Tuesday.Credit: Louie Douvis

Energy (down 1.14 per cent) recorded the sharpest declines as Brent crude fell 0.1 per cent to $US83.37 a barrel. Woodside slipped 1.18 per cent, Santos was down 0.55 per cent and Whitehaven Coal fell 1.15 per cent.

Iron ore slid 3.1 per cent to $US127.25 a tonne, weighing heavily on the local bourse. Mining giant BHP fell 0.52 per cent after its underlying profit slumped to $US6.6 billion ($10.1 billion), forcing the company to cut its interim dividend from US90 cents to US72 cents.

Fortescue was down 0.21 per cent, Rio Tinto fell 0.73 per cent and BlueScope Steel slipped 1.88 per cent.

Suncorp Group soared 6.5 per cent after the Australian Competition Tribunal green-lighted ANZ’s $4.9 billion bid for Suncorp’s banking arm.

Other strong large-cap performers were Mercury NZ (up 4.77 per cent), Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (up 3.5 per cent) and Pro Medicus (up 2.75 per cent).

Star Entertainment crashed 23.75 per cent after the chief commissioner of the NSW Independent Casino Commission ordered a fresh inquiry into Star Sydney. The company could be forced to close its flagship casino if it fails to convince a new inquiry that it has reformed its culture.


Sonic Healthcare slumped 6.81 per cent after reporting a 47 per cent dive in half-year net profit.

Europe’s benchmark stock index hit its highest in over two years on strength in healthcare stocks, while French and German shares lost some steam after scaling record highs last week as economic concerns weighed on sentiment.

The FTSE in London edged higher.
The FTSE in London edged higher.Credit: Bloomberg

The pan-European STOXX 600 closed 0.2 per cent higher, gaining for the fourth day. Trade volumes were light, with Wall Street shut for a public holiday.

Healthcare climbed 1 per cent to a near two-year high, led by AstraZeneca which jumped 3.2 per cent after a combination of its blockbuster cancer drug Tagrisso with chemotherapy to treat a type of lung cancer was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Meanwhile, basic resources fell 1 per cent as copper prices dropped after China held key rates on medium-term loans steady and markets focused on the country’s ailing property market.

France’s benchmark index was flat after the government lowered its 2024 GDP growth forecast to 1 per cent from 1.4 per cent as war in Ukraine and Gaza and a slowdown at top trading partners darkened the outlook.

The Bundesbank in a regular monthly report said Germany is likely in recession due to weak external demand, cautious consumers and stalling domestic investment. The benchmark DAX was down 0.2 per cent.

“Economic uncertainty will create market volatility, but markets are forward-looking and the expectations of falling inflation, and in time, falling interest rates have provided a boost to stock markets,” said Emma Wall, head of investment analysis and research, Hargreaves Lansdown.

The STOXX 600 notched a fourth straight weekly gain on Friday, driven by optimism around robust corporate earnings and hopes of imminent rate cuts by the ECB.

Over the course of this week, investors will monitor final inflation data and flash PMI readings for the euro zone and Germany’s fourth-quarter GDP to gauge the continent’s economic status.

Telecom Italia gained 5.9 per cent after Bank of America upgraded the stock to “buy” from “hold”, pushing the telecommunication index to a near two-week high.

Currys soared 36.4 per cent as China’s said it is evaluating a possible offer for the British electricals retailer. London’s FTSE closed 0.2 per cent higher.

With Reuters

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