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From Hero to Xero for tech star

Australian shares rose for the second straight day, with healthcare leading the way, and netting out a tech slump.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO) index advanced 19.5 points, or 0.3%, to 7014.9, while the broader All Ordinaries (INDEXASX: XAO) index rose 16.7 points, or 0.2%, to 7,215.

Healthcare’s rise was paced by a $4.45 rise, or 1.8%, in heavyweight CSL Limited (ASX: CSL), to $252.30, while tech was having a downer, led by software accounting company Xero Limited (ASX: XRO), which sank $14.25, or 12.4%, to $100.47 after reporting its half-year result. Xero swung from a loss to a profit of $50 million in the half-year, with revenue growing 21 per cent, but that failed to meet expectations.

CSL share price

The big banks were mixed. Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) fell 46 cents, or 2.1%, as it traded ex-dividend; and National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) slipped 23 cents, or 0.8%, to $28.94; but Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) advanced $1.42, or 1.4%, to $102.11; and ANZ Group Holdings Ltd (ASX: ANZ) gained 25 cents, or 1%, to $25.81. Investment bank and wealth manager Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX: MQG) was up $2.36, or 1.5%, to $163.46.

Orica explodes

Explosives and chemicals group Orica Ltd (ASX: ORI) gained 42 cents, or 2.8%, to $15.48 after reporting strong earnings across all business segments for the 2023 financial year, on the back of robust demand for mining commodities across the globe. Reported net profit surged five-fold, to $295.7 million, while underlying earnings were up 24%. The full-year dividend was 43 cents per share, up from 35 cents, also impressing investors.

Orica share price

Among the mining giants, Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO) rose 75 cents, or 0.6%, to $120.20; BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) was up 25 cents, or 0.6%, to $44.95; and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (ASX: FMG) gained 35 cents, or 1.5%, to $23.45.

In energy, Woodside Energy Group Ltd (ASX: WDS) fell 59 cents, or 1.8%, to $32.76; and Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) was down 3 cents, to $7.30.

Of the coal cohort, Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC) put on 7 cents, or 1%, to $6.90; Yancoal Australia Ltd (ASX: YAL) was up 6 cents, or 1.3%, to $4.76; and Stanmore Resources Ltd (ASX: SMR) added 6 cents, or 1.6%, to $3.74; but Coronado Global Resources Inc (ASX: CRN) slid 6 cents, or 3.6%, to $1.60.

Lithium producer Allkem Ltd (ASX: AKE) eased 6 cents, or 0.7%, to $9.24, while fellow producer appreciated 4 cents, or 1.1%, to $3.73. IGO Ltd (ASX: IGO), which mines nickel as well as lithium, softened 10 cents, or 1.1%, to $9.26; but Mineral Resources Ltd (ASX: MIN), which produces iron ore and lithium, followed its iron ore peers higher, gaining 65 cents, or 1.1%, to $59.89. Copper heavyweight Sandfire Resources Ltd (ASX: SFR) was up 4 cents, or 0.7%, to $6.13, while rare earths producer Lynas Rare Earths Ltd (ASX: LYC) gained 2 cents to $7.06.

Allkem share price

Streak ends on Wall Street as Fed Chair disappoints

In the US, the streak was too good to last, with the benchmark S&P 500 (INDEXSP: .INX) index retreating for the first time in nine sessions, losing 35.43 points, or 0.8%, to 4,347.75, after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell implied that more work may need to be done to bring down inflation to the central bank’s satisfaction, to its 2% goal.

The market had talked itself into believing that the Chair’s latest official remarks would signal that the Fed had completed its tightening bias of monetary policy: stocks and bonds have rallied on the back of that expectation.

That ended on Thursday, as a sharp jump in yields rattled investors. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (INDEXNASDAQ: .IXIC) Index slid 128.97 points, or 0.9%, to 13,521.45, while the 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX: .DJI) retreated 220.33 points, or 0.7%, to 33,891.94.

On the bond market, the US 10-year yield jumped 12.3 basis points, to 4.629%, while the more policy-sensitive 2-year yield lifted 10.5 basis points, to 5.033%.

Gold gained US$7.67, or 0.4%, to US$1,958.50 an ounce, while the global benchmark Brent crude oil grade rose 34 cents, or 0.4%, to US$79.88 a barrel, and US West Texas Intermediate oil firmed 21 cents, or 0.3%, to US475.54 a barrel.

The Australian dollar is buying 63.65 US cents this morning, down from 64.12 US cents at the ASX close on Thursday.

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