— Finance

Australian sharemarket surges to fresh record high yet again, tech stocks the top performers

The astonishing rally on the ASX continues, with the local market achieving its fourth-record close in the past five sessions. The Australian share market has rallied to its fourth record closing high in the past five trading sessions, with tech stocks the top performers. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 0.32 percent higher at 7562.6, while the All Ordinaries Index lifted 0.33 percent to 7830.4. OMG, chief executive Ivan Tchourilov said it had been a rollercoaster of a day after a strong start was followed by a sharp decline as the market flattened off due to a hit to consumer confidence. The National Australia Bank business confidence index fell by 18.5 points to a 12-month low of -7.9 points in July.

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said it was the second most significant monthly decline in sentiment since October 2008 during the global financial crisis, behind the record 61.8-point plunge in March 2020. “Aussie business confidence, as measured by the NAB, fell back into negative territory for the first time in 10 months to the lowest level since July 2020 due to widespread virus lockdowns and border closures,” Mr. Felsman said. “Sentiment fell across all states and territories, down the most in NSW due to Greater Sydney’s extended shutdown. But confidence was strongest in the mining boom state of Western Australia.”

tech stocks

CommSec analyst Steve Daghlian said tech stocks stood out, in line with the Nasdaq index on Wall Street overnight. He said buy-now-pay-later market leader Afterpay continued its strong run in the wake of last week’s takeover offer by US company Square, appreciating 3.25 percent to $134.27. “It rose 36 percent last week and was the best performer of the week as well,” Mr. Daghlian said. Megaport, which helps companies connect to cloud services, released some pleasing full-year numbers and, despite an overall loss, gained 3.05 percent to $17.90.

Commonwealth Bank advanced 1.54 percent to an all-time closing high of $106.56, National Australia Bank firmed 0.19 percent to $26.97, and Westpac added 0.87 percent to $25.58, but ANZ inched one cent lower to $28.88. Novonix emerged from a trading halt, announcing Houston-headquartered Phillips 66 would acquire a 16 percent stake in the lithium-ion battery company. Phillips 66 manufactures specialty coke, an essential precursor in the production of batteries. Shares in Novonix rocketed 15.56 percent to $3.49. Another stellar performer was medical imaging technology company Envision, which announced the fabrication and assembly of the alpha unit of its first-generation portable brain scanner, intended for commercialization, had been completed.

Shares in Envision soared 13.69 percent to $2.99. Building products company James Hardie reported an impressive 50 percent surge in June’s quarterly net income after achieving record sales amid the housing boom, particularly in the US. The company expects that boom to continue and has upgraded its guidance for the 2022 financial year. Macquarie Research said James Hardie was “smashing it” with its high-value product strategy “clearly at work in spades”.

“In a strong market backdrop, James Hardie continues to execute well.” “Despite increased uncertainty from the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant, the cement producer has raised its earnings guidance,” Mr. Tchourilov said. “This was partly due to its investment into home renovation materials, which homeowners increasingly get their hands dirty with. “The company did well as global lockdowns dissipated this year and will be well-positioned for when countries hit their vaccination targets.” Shares in James Hardie gained 2.9 percent to $49.32 after hitting an all-time peak of $50.72.

Fund manager Challenger Ltd delivered a full-year result and outlook in line with guidance, with funds under management up 30 percent. Still, corporate costs were higher than expected, Ord Minnett said. It described the announcement of Richard Howes’ departure as chief executive and managing director in March after 18 years with the company as a negative; communicating news of his departure may weigh on the stock and take away from an otherwise pre-guided result.

Gemma Broadhurst
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