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ASX 200 morning report – PDL, IRE & ASX lithium shares in focus

It was another weak day for the local market with every major sector falling on Tuesday and dragging the S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) down another 0.4%.

The primary driver remains the oil price, which fell by 4%, and the surging bond yields impacting on valuations.

ASX gold miners shine

This trend has benefitted the gold mining sector which contributed to a flat performance from the materials sector as Regis Resources Limited (ASX: RRL), St Barbara Ltd (ASX: SBM) and Evolution Mining Ltd (ASX: EVN) delivered gains of 4.7%, 2.8% and 2.5%, respectively.

The utilities sector also outperformed on strong energy prices with AGL Energy Limited (ASX: AGL) gaining 2% during the session.

Healthcare was the biggest detractor, with the likes of ResMed (ASX: RMD) dragging the sector down 1.4%.

Pendal knocks back Perpetual takeover offer

Pendal Group Ltd (ASX: PDL) shares were broadly flat after management rebuffed the unexpected takeover offer from giant Perpetual Limited (ASX: PPT), suggesting it ‘significantly undervalues’ the company.

Management responded by announcing a $100 million on-market share buyback in an effort to support the Pendal share price whilst reporting another $1.6 billion in outflows from its funds, taking total assets to $125.7 billion in March.

Iress reverses course

Shares in customer relationship management service and data provider Iress Ltd (ASX: IRE) gained 1.7%, outperforming the market.

The rally came after management announced it had cancelled the divestment of its UK mortgage servicing business which contributed just GBP$6.4 million in net profit in 2021. The news comes after the reversed takeover offer in 2021.

G8 Education struggling

Childcare operator G8 Education Ltd (ASX: GEM) fell 2.3% after management flagged falling revenue on the back of a surge in Omicron cases, and impacts from floods and labour shortages.

Occupancy is 2.1% behind lower 2021 levels, with the result a significant drop in earnings from $17 million to just $1 million for the half.

ASX lithium shares on the nose

But all eyes were on the ASX lithium sector, which saw a massive selloff despite strong reports from Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX: PLS) and a number of other major players.

Pilbara shares fell 5.8%, Novonix Ltd (ASX: NVX) dropped 5.5% and Liontown Resources Limited (ASX: LTR) was down 5.3%.

The selling pressure came after Pilbara reported quarterly production in the middle of its previous guidance but flagged issues with staffing and port delays.

Lynas Rare Earths Ltd (ASX: LYC) also reported, delivering a record quarter with sales revenue of $327.2 million, a 60% increase on the back of surging commodity prices.

ASX 200 today

Looking ahead, the ASX 200 is tipped to edge lower when the market opens this morning, following a slightly negative lead from US stock markets. To find out more, check out my US stock market report.

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Disclosure: At the time of publishing, the author of this article does not have a financial or commercial interest in any of the companies mentioned.

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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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