Local shares fought their way higher this week, with the ASX 200 climbing 1.9% to finish on 6033.6 points. While investors continue to grapple with concerns surrounding the unemployment outlook in Australia, the buoyant price of iron ore has supported investment in the major miners, which account for a sizeable portion of the ASX 200.
Which shares excelled?
Alumina (ASX: AWC) released its second-quarter earnings this week, with the company announcing record quarterly daily alumina production from its AWAC joint venture. Cash costs of alumina production dropped by $11 per tonne, while prices for aluminium oxide have steadily risen from their April lows amid increasing demand from China. Shares in AWC jumped 12.5%.
The rising price of iron ore supported the nation’s three-largest iron ore miners, as each of their share prices passed key price levels. Steel production remains resilient in China, prompting strong demand for iron ore, while Brazil’s supply is still curbed by COVID. Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) was the best-performer, rising 10.4%. BHP (ASX: BHP) and Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) also delivered stellar gains, up 4.8% and 6.3% respectively. South32 (ASX: S32) was also well supported through the week, with the company’s share price advancing 8.8%. Broader positive sentiment around resources stocks helped underpin its gains.
In the case of Rio Tinto, its latest quarterly production report showed that it was able to increase Pilbara iron ore production by 4% year-on-year, while shipments surged 19% against the first quarter of 2020. The company’s results were weighed down by underperformance in some of its other divisions, namely copper, aluminium and titanium dioxide slag.
Elsewhere, Netwealth (ASX: NWL) managed to record consecutive weekly gains, pushing it to a new all-time high. It appears that momentum has been building in the company’s shares since it announced that its Funds Under Administration (FUA) grew by $8.2 billion across FY20.
Another strong performer this week was Credit Corp Group (ASX: CCP), which leapt 10.8%. On Monday the company announced that its FY20 NPAT is expected to be in the range of $10-15 million after accounting for impairments and COVID-related provisions, and around $75-80 million prior to these adjustments. The company also outlined initiatives to manage its financial exposure amid what it perceives will be “persistently elevated levels of unemployment”. In addition to no net debt, shareholders may have taken solace in the company’s undrawn funding lines of $375 million.
Which shares dragged on the market?
A week after their robust performance, the leading buy-now pay-later stocks were sold down heavily. With tech shares on the NASDAQ providing a weak lead, as well as trading updates from the sector being sold into by traders, momentum swung sharply away from stocks in this sector after a roaring start to the week. Zip Co (ASX: Z1P) was the hardest-hit among the bunch, however, Afterpay (ASX: APT) and Sezzle (ASX: SZL), the latter despite a late rally, were also left feeling the heat.
By extension, the weak performance of the buy-now pay-later segment also weighed on other companies operating in the digital payments space. This included market darling Pushpay Holdings (ASX: PPH), as well as EML Payments (ASX: EML). The two companies shed 14.4% and 6.3% of their market valuations respectively.
Sentiment also soured for two health care stocks that have been favourites among investors in recent months. The share prices of Mesoblast (ASX: MSB) and Polynovo (ASX: PNV) dived by 9.5% and 7% respectively. Neither company’s sell-down was particularly correlated with news released this week, albeit Polynovo did recently advise shareholders its Pivotal trial recruitment may be delayed amid a request for further information from the FDA. This may have overshadowed news it has received US$15 million from a US government office to support its trial.
We’ll be back next week with another Weekly ASX Trading Wrap Up – until then, have a great weekend!
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