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Energy, iron ore stocks rally, but tech sinks ASX

Iron ore rose 4.4 per cent to $US99.83 a tonne, according to Fastmarkets MB’s benchmark for 62 per cent quality ore. A relaxation of curbs on Chinese property developers, rising margins for steel producers, and signs that Chinese authorities will add fiscal and monetary support look positive for the commodity, NAB economists said.

Fortescue Metals Group added 1.3 per cent to $17.57, BHP Group rose 0.5 per cent to $38.24, while Rio Tinto went the other way, dipping 0.1 per cent to $95.07.

Prospa rose 3.6 per cent to 86¢ as originations climbed to $40 million in October, up 84 per cent from the year-earlier period, demonstrating the positive sentiment across SMEs as restrictions further ease in time for the seasonal peak in trading.

Lendlease rose 3.2 per cent to $10.88. It is in discussions with Google over potentially developing data centres, global chief operating officer Denis Hickey told The Australian Financial Review.

The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) has approved the $5.2 billion takeover of Spark Infrastructure by a consortium led by private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund. Spark added 1.8 per cent to $2.87.

Webjet rose 1.4 per cent to $5.67 as it predicted booking volumes could reach pre-COVID-19 levels between October next year and March 2023. It is even releasing a long-frozen dividend payout from February last year, when coronavirus started engulfing the globe.

Technology stocks were broadly weaker; Technology One fell 8.6 per cent to $11.47 on broker downgrades.

A2 Milk intends to defend a second class action filed against it, saying it has “at all time complied with disclosure obligations” and that it “denies any liability” after proceedings were filed in the Supreme Court of Victoria by Shine Lawyers. It was flat at $6.31.

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Shares of Autoparts group Bapcor fell heavily for a second day following the surprise resignation on Tuesday of its long-serving managing director, Darryl Abotomey. They dropped 9.6 per cent on Tuesday and a further 4.2 per cent on Wednesday to $7.15.

Harvey Norman shares fell 1.7 per cent to $5.10 after the retailer reported sales for the financial year-to-date to November 21 fell 8.8 per cent. They are 16.9 per cent higher than the same period of 2019.

Pinnacle Investment Management returned to trading after raising $105 million in an institutional placement, with the proceeds used to fund Pinnacle’s investment in Five V Capital. The placement price was $16.70 a share. The stock fell 5.6 per cent to $16.52.

An ASIC-approved independent expert will be appointed to assess whether the ASX’s assurance program for the CHESS upgrade is “fit for purpose” as part of the market regulator’s findings stemming from the sharemarket blackout one year ago. ASX Limited fell 1.45 per cent to $93.39.

Whispir rallied 14.8 per cent to $2.40, having upgraded this financial year’s revenue guidance to between 11.9 per cent – 13 per cent, in the range of $64 million to $68 million. Whispir had previously advised revenue for the year ending next June 30 would be between $57.2 million – $60.2 million.

Mesoblast rose 1.2 per cent to $1.730; it said its September-quarter loss narrowed to $US22.84 million ($31.5 million), or US3.49¢ a share, from the year-earlier shortfall of $US24.06 million, or US4.21¢ a share. Revenue rose to $US3.59 million from $US1.31 million.

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Cash on hand at the end of the quarter totalled $US115.96 million, predating its financing deal with Oaktree worth $US90 million.

Nib Holdings purchased a 50 per cent equity stake in Australian digital health start-up, Midnight Health, for $4 million. The stock fell 0.7 per cent to $7.

Commonwealth Bank shares rose 0.4 per cent to $97.18.


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