ASX stays above 7000pts, COVID lingers

·4-min read

Australia's share market finished the week at about where it started, a little below record levels, but the latest COVID-19 lockdown in Western Australia means there is no certainty of scaling those heights next week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 5.3 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 7060.7 on Friday.

Its record level is 7197.2.

The All Ordinaries closed higher by 8.7 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 7320.7 points.

Shares in financials and telecommunications proved best, rising by 0.4 per cent.

The biggest losses were in consumer discretionaries, which lost about one per cent.

After trade closed, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan declared a three-day lockdown from midnight for people in Perth and the Peel region.

"I hope we can keep it to three days only," he said.

Two people became infected while in hotel quarantine in Perth and spent days in public while infectious. One flew to Melbourne.

The virus' devastation overseas impacted market participants earlier this week.

On Tuesday, the ASX had its biggest fall of the month (0.68 per cent) after India set grim records in daily COVID deaths.

The likelihood of lockdowns, and the closing of the land-border between Canada and the US, rattled the oil price.

The ASX had its first weekly loss in the past five, albeit by only 0.04 per cent.

Meanwhile US stocks gave a weak lead on Friday after reports US President Joe Biden planned to almost double the capital gains tax.

Wealth manager AMP will spin off and list one of its key business units after a potential sale fell through.

The private markets investment arm, AMP Capital, manages assets including infrastructure equity and real estate.

It will be demerged from the main AMP business sometime in the first half of 2022, before listing on the share market.

Shares closed up 0.89 per cent to $1.13.

AMP's annual general meeting is on Friday next week.

Online retailer Kogan crashed by 14.27 per cent to $10.69 after investors were disappointed by a first quarter update.

The company said customer demand dropped below levels experienced from March last year. March was the onset of the pandemic.

The drop meant Kogan held more stock, increasing costs. Earnings dipped 24 per cent on the same quarter last year.

Clothing chain Glue Store has been sold in a $13 million deal to Accent Group, which owns The Athlete's Foot and Dr Martens.

Accent said it was buying Next Athleisure, which owns Glue as well as wholesale and distribution operations.

Glue has annual sales of about $90 million, including $16.6 million from online. The chain has 21 stores.

Investors liked the purchase and shares closed higher by 11.15 per cent at a record $2.89.

In banking, the big four all gained less than half a per cent.

Bank of Queensland, Bendigo and Macquarie all rose by more than one per cent.

In mining, the notable movers were South32, which rose 2.11 per cent to $2.90. Fortescue gained 1.59 per cent to $21.66.

On Monday, there may be little company news as most states and territories observe an Anzac Day public holiday.

On Wednesday, the consumer price index for the March quarter is due. Commonwealth Bank economists have tipped headline inflation to climb by 1.1 per cent for the quarter.

Coles will reveal sales from its third quarter.

On Thursday, rival Woolworths will publish third quarter sales figures.

Fortescue will detail how much iron ore it dug from Western Australia's Pilbara region, and sales for the March quarter.

The Australian dollar was buying 77.37 US cents at 1725 AEST on Friday, lower from 77.51 US cents at Thursday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 5.3 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 7060.7 on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 8.7 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 7320.7 points.

* At 1725 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was up by five points, or 0.07 per cent, to 7027.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 77.37 US cents, from 77.51 cents on Thursday

* 83.53 Japanese yen, from 83.67 yen

* 64.22 Euro cents, from 64.41 cents

* 55.73 British pence, from 55.66 pence

* 107.72 NZ cents, from 107.77 cents.