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ASX 200 morning report – IAG, VEA & VRT shares in focus

The Australian share market continued the post-invasion recovery, with the S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) gaining 0.7% to begin the month of March; this comes after finishing February just 1.1% higher.

The ASX technology sector was the biggest contributor with Block (ASX: SQ2) gaining 12.7%, sending the sector 5.7% higher despite a 6% fall in competitor Zip Co Ltd (ASX: Z1P). Zip recommenced trading after successfully raising $148 million to fund the acquisition of Sezzle Inc (ASX: SZL) in its pursuit of US domination.

Four of the 11 sectors finished lower, with utilities down 2.2% behind a 3.7% fall in Origin Energy Ltd (ASX: ORG).

Shares in insurer Insurance Australia Group Ltd (ASX: IAG) were flat after the company said it had received close to 7,000 flood-related claims in Queensland and New South Wales but that it was ‘too early to determine the extent and financial impact’.

Fuel distributor Viva Energy Group Ltd (ASX: VEA) gained 1.2% after announcing it would build a green hydrogen plant and the country’s first refuelling station at its Geelong refinery.

CapVest ups bid for Virtus

Shares in healthcare provider Virtus Health Ltd (ASX: VRT), which offers reproductive, diagnostics and day hospitals, gained another 4.7% after CapVest upped their bid for the company to $7.80. This is above the $7.65 offered by private equity firm BGH, reflecting the massive growth opportunity that private market investors are seeing in the healthcare sector.

Crown Resorts Ltd (ASX: CWN) shares were broadly flat after AUSTRAC announced it would be pursuing the company over alleged non-compliance with anti-money laundering and know your customer laws.

Elsewhere, testing provider ALS Ltd (ASX: ALQ) upgraded guidance for financial year profit by 6.5%, the group citing capacity investments as being behind the surge.

RBA bullish but conservative

But all eyes were on the Reserve Bank which once again held the cash rate at 0.1% as they have indicated for months. The board highlighted Ukraine as a new source of uncertainty, alongside inflation which they say has been driven by energy price increases and supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic.

The Australian economy remains resilient, picking up after the Omicron shadow lockdown with unemployment still at a 14-year low, but wages growth still hovering around the relatively low rates that prevailed before the pandemic. So effectively, ‘nothing to see here’ in terms of future rate hikes.

ASX 200 today

Looking ahead, the ASX 200 is expected to open lower this morning, following a negative lead from US stock markets overnight. All three US benchmarks fell by more than 1%. To find out more, check out my US stock market report.

The Golden Rules of Investing

We might be experts in retirement, but with combined financial advice experience of 35+ years, we’ve nearly seen it all. 

In mid-2023, our senior team at Wattle Partners Financial Planning put the finishing touches on a brand-new report “The Golden Rules of Investing“.

In this free report, we outline the key principles that determine all of the portfolio construction and investment decisions of Wattle Partners. Collated over decades, this paper should be seen as a work-in-progress, constantly under review in light of the ever-evolving nature of markets. 

You’ll find the free report on my Author page. Simply click the button below to view the Golden Rules.

Information warning: The information on this website is published by The Rask Group Pty Ltd (ABN: 36 622 810 995) is limited to factual information or (at most) general financial advice only. That means, the information and advice does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It is not specific to you, your needs, goals or objectives. Because of that, you should consider if the advice is appropriate to you and your needs, before acting on the information. If you don’t know what your needs are, you should consult a trusted and licensed financial adviser who can provide you with personal financial product advice. In addition, you should obtain and read the product disclosure statement (PDS) before making a decision to acquire a financial product. Please read our Terms and Conditions and Financial Services Guide before using this website. The Rask Group Pty Ltd is a Corporate Authorised Representative (#1280930) of AFSL #383169.

Disclosure: At the time of publishing, Drew owns shares in Zip Co.

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Wattle Partners is a financial advice firm, servicing clients around Australia, specialising in retirement planning (pre and post retirement). 

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