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ASX pares back losses as financials rally

AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY
Financial stocks were the best performers during Monday’s trading session. Picture NCA Newswire/ Gaye Gerard

The Australian share market advanced on Monday, as the benchmark extended its positive run after a sharp sell-off over the past fortnight.

At the closing bell, the S&P/ASX200 added 0.8 per cent, or 59.3 points, to 7761, with nine of 11 industry sectors finishing in the green. Meanwhile, the broader All Ordinaries posted a more modest increase, climbing 0.7 per cent to 8024.1

Investors shrugged off the increase to award and minimum wages by 3.75 per cent announced by the Fair Work Commission on Monday, which economists expected would bring comfort to the Reserve Bank amid stalling progress on disinflation.

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“We see this as a balanced decision that provides a reasonable real wage increase for workers facing cost of living pressures while ensuring wage outcomes are more in line with labour productivity,” Westpac senior economist Justin Smirk said.

AUSTRALIAN ECONOMICS
Financials stocks led gains, with the sector finishing 1.5 per cent higher. Picture: NCA Newswire

The financial sector was the strongest performer, with Westpac leading the big four banks after it added 2.5 per cent to $26.63. NAB added 1.6 per cent to $34.46, CBA rose 1.5 per cent to $121.29 and ANZ climbed 1.2 per cent to $28.58.

Utilities and real estate stocks also buoyed the benchmark, with sector heavyweights Origin Energy rising 1.2 per cent to $10.31 and Goodman Group jumping 1.9 per cent to $34.14.

Miners also finished moderately higher, as sector heavyweight BHP rose 0.7 per cent to $44.81 even as futures for the key steelmaking ingredient slumped to $US111.90 a tonne on the Singapore Exchange.

Rival iron ore producers were mixed with Fortescue up 0.2 per cent to $24.78, while Rio Tinto slipped 0.3 per cent to $128.52.

Meanwhile, coal miners also buoyed the sector. Yancoal added 1.7 per cent to $6.57, while Whitehaven Coal advanced 2.4 per cent to $8.25.

Elsewhere in commodities, energy stocks gained ground even as the OPEC+ oil cartel outlined its plans to extend most of its output cuts well into next year amid weak demand sending Brent crude to $81 a barrel.

Energy sector heavyweights finished higher with Woodside adding 0.8 per cent to $27.93 while Santos climbed 0.5 per cent to $7.67.

*FILE PIX* Billionaire Gina Rinehart, chairman of Hancock Prospecting Pty, stands for a photograph during a tour of the company's Roy Hill Mine operations under construction in the Pilbara region, Western Australia. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Phil Gostelow
Mining magnate Gina Rinehart increased her stake in lithium hopeful Vulcan Energy. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Phil Gostelow

In corporate news, Lovisa was the biggest laggard on the benchmark, plunging 10.4 per cent to $30.40 after it named John Cheston as its next chief executive. Previously, Mr Cheston ran stationery retailer Smiggle.

Shares in Vulcan Energy Resources jumped 7.2 per cent to $5.08, after it was revealed that Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting increased its stake in the lithium aspirant to 7.5 per cent.

Construction materials supplier Fletcher Building climbed 3.5 per cent to $2.94 after it secured amendments to its banking agreements as the company faces tougher trading conditions.

Galileo Mining surged 12.3 per cent to 28c after the company announced it would offload its 30 per cent lithium stake in the multi-metal Norseman project it currently owns in a joint venture with Mineral Resources. Shares in the latter added 0.3 per cent to $71.87.

Biotech firm Immutep went into a trading halt ahead of a mooted $100m capital raise to fund medical trials of a lung cancer treatment. Shares last traded at 45c.