Australian sharemarket surges to fresh record high yet again, tech stocks the top performers

The Australian sharemarket has rallied to its fourth record closing high in the past five trading sessions, with tech stocks the top performers.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 0.32 per cent higher at 7562.6, while the All Ordinaries Index lifted 0.33 per cent to 7830.4.

OMG chief executive Ivan Tchourilov said it had been a rollercoaster of a day, after a strong start was followed by a sharp decline as the market flattened off due to a hit to consumer confidence.

The National Australia Bank business confidence index fell by 18.5 points to a 12-month low of -7.9 points in July.

CommSec senior economist Ryan Felsman said it was the second biggest monthly decline in sentiment since October 2008 during the global financial crisis, behind the record 61.8-point plunge in March 2020.

“Aussie business confidence, as measured by the NAB, fell back into negative territory for the first time in 10 months to the lowest level since July 2020 due to widespread virus lockdowns and border closures,” Mr Felsman said.

“Sentiment fell across all states and territories in July, down the most in NSW due to Greater Sydney’s extended shutdown. But confidence was strongest in the mining boom state of Western Australia.”

CommSec analyst Steve Daghlian said tech stocks were a standout, in line with the Nasdaq index on Wall Street overnight.

Australian sharemarket surges to fresh record high yet again, tech stocks the top performers

Camera IconAfterpay shares continue to climb in the wake of Square’s $39bn takeover offer. Bianca De Marchi / NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia

He said buy-now-pay-later market leader Afterpay continued its strong run in the wake of last week’s takeover offer by US company Square, appreciating 3.25 per cent to $134.27.

“It rose 36 per cent last week and was the best performer of the week as well,” Mr Daghlian said.

Megaport, which helps companies connect to cloud services, released some pleasing full-year numbers and despite an overall loss, gained 3.05 per cent to $17.90.

Commonwealth Bank advanced 1.54 per cent to an all-time closing high of $106.56, National Australia Bank firmed 0.19 per cent to $26.97 and Westpac added 0.87 per cent to $25.58 but ANZ inched one cent lower to $28.88.

Novonix emerged from a trading halt, announcing Houston-headquartered Phillips 66 would acquire a 16 per cent stake in the lithium-iron battery company. Phillips 66 manufactures specialty coke, a key precursor in the production of batteries.

Shares in Novonix rocketed 15.56 per cent to $3.49.

Another stellar performer was medical imaging technology company Emvision, which announced the fabrication and assembly of the alpha unit of its first-generation portable brain scanner, intended for commercialisation, had been completed.

Shares in Emvision soared 13.69 per cent to $2.99.

Australian sharemarket surges to fresh record high yet again, tech stocks the top performers

Camera IconJames Hardie is benefiting from a booming housing market. Credit: Supplied

Building products company James Hardie reported an impressive 50 per cent per cent surge in June quarter net income after achieving record sales amid the housing boom, particularly in the US.

The company expects that boom to continue and accordingly has upgraded its guidance for the 2022 financial year.

Macquarie Research said James Hardie was “smashing it”, with its high-value product strategy “clearly at work in spades”.

“In the context of a strong market backdrop, James Hardie continues to execute well.”

Shares in James Hardie gained 2.9 per cent to $49.32 after hitting an all-time peak of $50.72.

“Despite increased uncertainty from spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant, the cement producer has raised its earnings guidance,” Mr Tchourilov said.

“This was in part due to its investment into home renovation materials, which homeowners are increasingly getting their hands dirty with.

“The company did well as global lockdowns dissipated this year and will be well-positioned for when countries hit their vaccination targets.”

Fund manager Challenger Ltd delivered a full-year result and outlook in line with guidance, with funds under management up 30 per cent, but corporate costs were higher than expected, Ord Minnett said.

It described the announcement of Richard Howes’ departure as chief executive and managing director in March after 18 years with the company as a negative, saying news of his departure may weigh on the stock and take away from an otherwise pre-guided result.

Shares in Challenger rose 1.9 per cent to $5.98.

Australian sharemarket surges to fresh record high yet again, tech stocks the top performers

Camera IconBad news is coming for employees of loss-making Regional Express. James Gourley / NCA NewsWire Credit: News Corp Australia

Airline Regional Express revised its full-year guidance, with its loss of $15m flagged in June widening to $18m.

The company blamed lockdowns in NSW and ensuing border closures, and warned it would be implementing temporary staff stand downs, with the number to be released at the end of the week.

Rex shares were steady at $1.18.

Mr Tchourilov said online bookie PointsBet was back on track, gaining 9.86 per cent to $11.14 following a dip late last month.

“If the stock can push back up towards its 50-day moving average in the coming days, a break of this level may grab the attention of technical traders, especially considering its recent capital-raising and investor presentation is now complete,” he said.

“This would form a strong technical picture, which ties in nicely with their US growth strategy that’s expected to accelerate as gambling laws are relaxed across a number of key states.”

Mr Tchourilov said lithium continued its hot streak.

“Lithium demand forecasts have only been growing and the proposed merger between Galaxy Resources and Orocobre will have it rivalling Pilbara Minerals, and cement its place as a global top five lithium supplier,” he said.

Galaxy jumped 8.6 per cent to $5.30, Orocobre rallied 8.74 per cent to $9.33 and Pilbara advanced 10.95 per cent to $2.33.

Rio Tinto eased 0.59 per cent to $127.50, BHP firmed 0.14 per cent to $51.76 and Fortescue retreated 1.1 per cent to $22.51.

The Aussie dollar was buying 73.36 US cents, 52.97 British pence and 62.47 Euro cents in afternoon trade.

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