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ASX 200 morning report – TAH, PDN & MFG shares in focus

The S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) managed to finish the quarter 0.7% higher in price terms, but down just over 1% on an accumulation basis. This was despite the market finishing near its lows on Thursday, down 0.2%.

ASX commodities show strength

The only positive contributions came from the rare earth and commodities sector with materials up 1.5%. The driver was a surge in multiple commodity prices and signs of growing sanctions against Russia.

Champion Iron Ltd (ASX: CIA), Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) and Iluka Resources Limited (ASX: ILU) all led the way, gaining 6%, 4.3% and 3.5% respectively.

But the biggest driver of the market was BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP), which gained 2.3% and is now nearing an all-time high after finishing at $51.75, just 3% of 2021’s peak.

Tabcorp demerger steps up

Tabcorp Holdings Limited (ASX: TAH) shares rallied 2.5% after management confirmed the demerger of its lotteries and Keno business into a standalone company will go ahead in the next few months.

Named The Lottery Company, the group is set to list on the ASX in May. The idea remains to ‘extract value’ by separating the business and allow for an easier sale or break up of the individual assets.

Paladin raising again, Qantas goes net zero

Paladin Energy Ltd (ASX: PDN) shares were falling before entering another trading halt, with management once again seeking $200 million in new equity to help restart its uranium mine in Namibia.

It is almost 12 months to the day of Paladin’s previous $218 million raising to pay back debt associated with the same mine. Interestingly, the prior CEO just entered a contract to merge two smaller ASX uranium players, Vimy Resources Ltd (ASX: VMY) and Deep Yellow Limited (ASX: DYL).

Meanwhile, Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) also unveiled a plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, driven by a switch to sustainable aviation fuel and greater fuel efficiency.

Magellan tries to retain staff

Magellan Financial Group Ltd (ASX: MFG) shares were down slightly after confirming it will go ahead with a staff retention plan that includes issuing 10 million options with a strike price of $35 to ensure it does not lose talent. For context, the Magellan share price is currently sitting just under $16.

Surge in job vacancies

Job vacancies jumped 6.9% in February, with 423,000 openings, 86% higher than pre-COVID levels. This is the challenge facing most global economies with record job openings but near full unemployment, as overseas travellers await full border re-openings.

ASX 200 today

Looking ahead, the ASX 200 is set to dip when the market opens this morning after all three US stock markets finished around 1.5% lower overnight. To find out more, check out my US stock market report.

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