ASX falls for week as inflation persists

·3-min read

ASX investors have recovered some losses from the week as inflationary pressures stay top of mind in Australia and abroad.

An $8.46 billion takeover offer for Crown and gains for healthcare and commodity stocks were among notable movements on the market on Friday.

Inflation remained a chief concern in a week in which the ASX lost 0.63 per cent.

UK inflation reached a 10-year high annual rate of 4.2 per cent. In Canada, the reading was 4.5 per cent.

Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe this week explained people were buying more goods rather than services during the pandemic, leading to shortages and higher prices.

Inflation, which stands at three per cent in Australia, would normalise, Mr Lowe said.

AMP head of investment strategy Shane Oliver agreed.

He said as workers returned to their regular workplaces, they would spend more on services and goods production would catch up.

The only danger was this could take six to 12 months and contribute to inflation expectations, Mr Oliver said.

On the market, private equity group Blackstone raised its price for Crown.

The US company tabled an offer of $12.50 for each share despite a royal commission in Western Australia continuing.

Crown shares rose more than 16 per cent to $11.54.

Healthcare shares were the best performers while materials and energy also contributed gains.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 17.3 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 7396.5 points.

The All Ordinaries closed higher by 16.7 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 7729.9 points.

The gains were similar to those of US markets. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq eked out record closing highs after investors focused on upbeat retail and technology earnings.

In ASX stock movements, Sonic Healthcare gained three per cent for a second consecutive day.

The company on Thursday revealed underlying earnings improved 16 per cent in the first four months of the financial year.

Market giant CSL improved in the latest session by one per cent to $315.50.

The big miners were higher. Bluescope Steel improved by 2.37 per cent to $20.71. BHP gained 1.14 per cent to $36.45. Fortescue and Rio Tinto rose by less than one per cent.

In banking, the Commonwealth was best of the big four and higher by 0.36 per cent. ANZ and NAB dropped less than one per cent. Westpac was little changed.

Cargo software vendor WiseTech Global said supply chain disruption was expected to continue impacting trade until coronavirus vaccines were widely available.

There was no change to the full-year earnings forecast of between 26 and 38 per cent growth.

Shares were down 2.49 per cent to $57.27.

The boss of asset manager Janus Henderson will retire at the end of March.

Dick Weil has been chief executive for 12 years and the company is looking for his replacement.

Shares were up 2.61 per cent to $63.64.

Data centre provider Next DC said it had made a strong start towards meeting its full-year earnings forecast.

The company has resources available to accommodate a rise in earnings of between 19 and 23 per cent.

Shares were up 0.48 per cent to $12.68.

The Australian dollar was buying 72.81 US cents at 1721 AEDT, higher from 72.75 US cents at Thursday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 17.3 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 7396.5 points on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 16.7 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 7729.9 points.

* At 1721 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up two points, or 0.03 per cent, at 7398 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 72.81 US cents, from 72.75 cents on Thursday

* 83.26 Japanese yen, from 83.09 yen

* 64.13 Euro cents, from 64.27 cents

* 53.98 British pence, from 53.92 pence

* 103.42 NZ cents, from 103.46 cents.

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