• ASX closes lower despite a positive open
  • Miners drop, while QBE and NRW rose on updates
  • IGO confirmed the hiring of Ivan Vella as CEO after investigation

 

The ASX200 closed -0.65% lower on Monday despite opening higher at the opening bell. On Friday, Wall Street closed mixed on a shortened trading day due to the Thanksgiving holiday season.

Commodity stocks led the ASX selloff today, followed closely by Utility stocks, while Tech shares  were the best performers.

Amongst losers today were heavyweights BHP (ASX:BHP) and Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG), which lost over 1% each as iron ore futures dipped in Singapore.

Oil prices meanwhile steadied in Asian hours today after a 3-day drop, signalling market’s belief that OPEC+ may deepen its production cuts when the cartel meets online this Thursday.

Traders’s eyes were also on the ongoing Black Friday and Cyber Monday for any signs of a pullback in consumer demand.

On the geopolitical front, there’s a growing call to extend the temporary truce between Israel and Hamas as hostages continue to get released.

Across the region, Asian stocks rose slightly today after profits at China’s big industrial companies continued to improve in October, by 2.7% from a year earlier, thanks to Beijing’s efforts to stimulate domestic demand.

Meanwhile, most experts believe the US dollar will “remain heavy” this week.

“The backdrop of low volatility and expectations for a soft landing in the US economy supports portfolio capital flows into emerging markets,” said Joseph Capurso, a Commonwealth Bank of Australia strategist.

The Aussie dollar has appreciated beyond ~US65.70c and is now trading at ~US65.77c.

Looking ahead to the rest of the week, Tuesday’s Australian October retail sales and Wednesday’s CPI report will be the focus for local investors.

 

BIG CAP WINNERS

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QBE Insurance (ASX:QBE) was up 1% after reporting its Q3 FY23 results.

QBE’s September quarter gross written premium (GWP) grew 7% year-on-year, while year-to-date GWP rose 11% on a constant currency basis.

The insurer has retained its FY23 10% GWP growth guidance, and estimated $950m in catastrophe costs in the year to October, against $1.3 billion anticipated for FY23.

On the investments side, despite weaker risk asset performance, QBE produced strong fixed income returns. Total investment FUM for Q2 meanwhile was $28.2b. During the third quarter, the net impact from asset liability management activities was broadly neutral.

Diversified company, NRW Holdings (ASX:NWH) was up 0.5% after reporting that its subsidiary, Golding Contractors, has secured a $245m four-year extension to a south east Queensland mining contract with CS Energy subsidiary, Aberdare Collieries.

 

BIG CAP LOSERS

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Lithium miner, IGO Ltd (ASX:IGO) fell over 2% after confirming that Ivan Vella will commence as IGO’s Managing Director and CEO on 11 December.

The decision came after IGO completed an investigation of the circumstances that led to the firing of Vella from Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) a fortnight ago.

Rio had apparently fired Vella as head of its aluminium division on November 15th because of his “failure” to keep confidential information secret.

“Through this review, we understand that during his handover process not all appropriate procedure was followed in relation to confidential information under his control, and Ivan has accepted accountability for this policy breach,” said the release from IGO.

“Based on what is known, no information was compromised as a result of his actions.”