ASX recovers early losses to close flat

14.12.21

The Aussie sharemarket has finished the session almost unchanged, clawing back some earlier losses.

The ASX 200 (XJO) lost just 1 point to close at 7,378 – having been down about 0.4% in early trade, says Elvina Simpson at CommSec.

The Energy, Consumer Discretionary & IT sectors lost ground, while the Consumer Staples sector was the worst performer, falling 4% as investors sold off Woollies shares following its trading update.

  • Woolworths (WOW) sank 7.7% to $37.45 after warning it expects 1H earnings from its Australian food business to fall by as much as 9.2% due to the pandemic. The supermarket giant has forecast Covidrelated costs of between $210-220 million for the period, with Australian food EBIT expected to be in the range of $1.19-1.22 billion, down from $1.31 billion a year earlier. Woolworths Group CEO, Brad Banducci, said “The first half of F22 has been one of the most challenging halves we have experienced in recent memory due to the far-reaching impacts of the COVID Delta strain and its impact on our end-to-end stock flow and operating rhythm.”
  • CSL (CSL) shares were placed in a trading halt pending an announcement. It follows media reports it’s planning a potential acquisition of Switzerland’s Vifor Pharma. CSL last traded at $297.27.
  • Nearmap (NEA) jumped 4.8% to $1.54 after announcing its North American business is expected to soon become bigger than its Australian and NZ operations. The milestone is expected to be reached by the end of December 2021.
  • Mesoblast (MSB) dropped 17.4% to $1.41 after coming out of a trading halt this morning. It follows news that Novartis has withdrawn from a planned investment & commercialisation deal with the company. · Polynovo (PNV) surged 15.4% to $1.57 following a trading update in which the skin repair products maker said US sales hit record levels in November. “The US had a strong start to Q2 with sales of $AU 4.66m / $US 3.42m (Oct and Nov) up 133% on last year $AU 1.99m / $US 1.44m (Oct and Nov).”
  • Afterpay (APT) shareholders today voted in favour of the buy-nowpay-later provider’s acquisition by Block Inc. Afterpay said the only remaining condition of the $29bn deal was the Bank of Spain’s approval for Block’s license application. APT shares closed down 4.1% to $90.83.
  • In economic news, the NAB business confidence index fell from +19.9 points in October to +11.5 points in November. While business conditions rose from +9.9 points in October to +11.7 points in November.
  • 3.99bn shares were traded worth $7.47bn. 603 stocks closed higher, 800 finished weaker, while 425 ended unchanged.
  • Looking ahead, the US NFIB small business optimism index is due to be released along with producer prices data.