• The ASX closes 0.30% lower on its first trading day break after Christmas
  • Iron ore price rises as China eases tough covid-19 restrictions 
  • WHC among losers with reports of soft coal purchases in China until March

The ASX has resumed from the Christmas break tracking lower as investors weighed headwinds in 2023.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed down 0.30%. Leading the winners Energy up 1.52%, Materials rose 0.26% and Utilities gained 0.19%. Leading the laggards Health Care fell 1.23%, Industrials lost 1.11% while IT dropped 0.97%

While markets have been hoping for an end to China’s tough covid-19 measures now there is growing unease that its reopening could add further global inflation pressure. The US treasury yields up by around 10 basis points to trade at 3.85%.

However, iron ore prices soared on hopes the easing of restrictions, which has led to spiralling infections in China, could boost industrial activity. At the time of writing iron ore was US$114/tonne.

Furthermore, Data from the Australian Retailers Association and Roy Morgan expects a big $23.5 billion spend by Boxing Day bargain hunters between December 26 and January 15 when the biggest discounts are around.

But after that point, it forecasts spending will dramatically slow down because of higher interest rates and the rising cost of living.

Wall Street ended mixed with the S&P 500 down 0.4%, the Nasdaq fell 1.38%, while the Dow Jones rose 0.11%. In the UK and Europe, there was more of a festive feel.

In the UK, the FTSE 100 closed up 0.05%, and the FTSE 250 was 0.36% higher. In the EU, the DAX and the Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.39% and 0.42% respectively.

In the Asia-Pacific region today with The Heng Seng was the only index in the green up 1.31%, with the CSI 300 down 0.40%.

The Kospi fell the hardest, down 2.07%. The Nikkei 225 lost 0.54% while the Topix fell 0.14%  in afternoon session.



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Among today’s winners was iron ore stock Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) along with energy stocks Woodside Energy Group (ASX:WDS) and  Ampol (ASX:ALD), which rallied on Russia’s oil ban.



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Among today’s biggest losers were Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) Bloomberg has reported overseas purchases of thermal coal by China could stay soft until March.

Graphite miner Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR) led other big resource stocks recording falls today.