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Waiting on a rates decision

The Australian sharemarket rose tepidly on Monday, ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s much-anticipated cash rate decision on Tuesday.

The S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO) closed 19.2 points, or 0.3%, higher at 6,997, after poking its nose above the 7000-point threshold earlier in the day. The broader All Ordinaries (INDEXASX: XAO) index was 0.2% higher, up 17.2 points at 7,192.3.

The healthcare sector was the standout performer, up 1.5%, boosted by heavyweights CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) and Resmed CDI (ASX: RMD). CSL gained $4.22, or 1.7%, to $248.22, while ResMed rose 72 cents, or 3.1%, to $23.87.

CSL share price

Energy stocks were the lead in the market’s saddlebags, down 1%, following a 6% slide in the price of oil over the last week. Woodside Energy Group Ltd (ASX: WDS)  lost 26 cents, or 0.8%, to $33.75, while Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) eased 3 cents, or 0.4%, to $7.39, and Brazilian-based producer Karoon Energy Ltd (ASX: KAR) shed 8 cents, or 3.2%, to $2.44.

Gold miners lifted after the gold price briefly edged above $US2,000 an ounce over the weekend. Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST) was up 37 cents, or 3.2%, to $11.99; Evolution Mining Ltd (ASX: EVN) lifted 18 cents, or 5.1%, to $3.69; and De Grey Mining Limited (ASX: DEG) added 8.5 cents, or 7.4%, to $1.23.

In the bulk miners, BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) eased 6 cents to $45.44; Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO) slid $1.10, or 0.9%, to $121.50; and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (ASX: FMG) retreated 1 cent, to $23.22.

Market takes off on a Whispir

Small-cap cloud services provider Whispir Ltd (ASX: WSP) rocketed 18.5 cents, or 61.7%, to 48.5 cents following a takeover offer from Soprano Digital. Financial services technology company Iress Ltd (ASX: IRE) leapt 43 cents, or 8.3%, to $5.64 the financial software developer was upgraded to overweight by analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: JPM).

Whispir share price

Takeover target Origin Energy Ltd (ASX: ORG) jumped 16 cents, or 1.9%, to $8.45, after falling about 8% over last week. The utility giant’s largest shareholder AustralianSuper has increased its stake to 15.03% and intends to vote against the proposed takeover by Brookfield and EIG at Origin’s annual general meeting later this month.

Among the big banks, Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) strengthened 42 cents, or 2%, to $21.92. The bank reported a 26 per cent increase in full-year net profit to $7.2 billion and an improved 72¢ final dividend. The bank also announced plans for a $1.5 billion on-market share buyback.

ANZ Group Holdings Ltd (ASX: ANZ) rose 14 cents, or 0.6%, to $25.74; National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) gained 28 cents, or 1%, to $29.34; and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) advanced 49 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $100.42.

Wall Street gauges advance

In the US, markets pushed ahead, with the Nasdaq Composite (INDEXNASDAQ: .IXIC) index marking its longest positive streak since January. The Nasdaq gained 40.5 points, or 0.3%, to 13,518.78, while the broad S&P 500 (INDEXSP: .INX) index appreciated 7.6 points to 4,365.98 and the 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX: .DJI) added 34.54 points, to close at 34,095.86.

On the bond market, the US 10-year yield moved 13.1 basis points higher, to 4.649%, while the 2-year yield was up 5.4 basis points, at 4.924%.

Gold weakened US$10.81, or 0.5%, to US$1,977.97 an ounce, the global benchmark Brent crude oil grade added 33 cents, or 0.4%, to US$85.22 a barrel, and US West Texas Intermediate oil gained 31 cents, also 0.4%, to US$80.82 a barrel.

The Australian dollar is buying 64.87 US cents this morning, down from 65.15 cents at the ASX close on Monday.

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