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Closing Bell 25 January

Grady Wulff
January 25, 2023

Australia’s inflation rate data for the December quarter released today showed the country’s inflation rose to 7.8% for the twelve months to December 2022, or 1.9% for the quarter, which exceeded economists’ expectations, and adding to investor fears of further interest rate hikes to tackle the stubbornly high inflation. Travel and electricity contributed the largest price rises over the December quarter of 2023, while travel and building new homes contributed the largest price hikes over the 12-months.

Following the release of the data, the ASX sharply declined before steadily climbing in afternoon trade to close the day down 0.29% as a sell-off in energy stocks and info tech stocks weighed on the key index.

Company trading updates continue being released and included in today’s announcements were updates from Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN), St Barbara (ASX:SBM) and Best & Less (ASX:BST).

Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) shares fell more than 2% today on the release of Q2 results including delays to the expansion of production capacity at the company’s Mt Marion lithium project due to delayed supply of processing equipment and labour shortages, which has caused FY23 shipment guidance to be reduced, and Free on Board (FOB) costs to be increased. Iron ore shipments for the quarter were also down 9% QoQ, while spodumene concentrate shipped in the quarter rose 18% and a total of 7418 tonnes of lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate was converted, with 6612 tonnes sold during the quarter, up 75% QoQ.

Investors fled St Barbara (ASX:SBM) shares today, causing the gold miner’s share price to fall over 16% on the release of a Q2 trading update including gold production of 60,976 ounces at an All-in-sustaining-cost of $2666/ounce which implies lower production and higher costs quarter on quarter.

Best & Less (ASX:BST) shares were also caught up in the trading update related sell-off today after the value retailer released an update for the 26-weeks ended January 1, 2023, including total revenue up 13% on the PCP, however like-for-like sales were down 4.9%, online sales were down 29.8% and NPAT down 31.8% on the prior first half to $13.7m.

The winning stocks from today’s session were News Corp (ASX:NWS) rallying 6.25%, Monadelphous (ASX:MND) adding 5.38% and IPH (ASX:IPH) jumping over 4%. And on the losing end West African Resources (ASX:WAF) took the biggest hit, falling almost 7.5%, while Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) losing 5.9% and Ramelius Resources (ASX:RMS) ending the day down almost 5%.

The most traded stocks by Bell Direct clients were Core Lithium (ASX:CXO), Sierra Rutile (ASX:SRX), and Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF (ASX:VAS).

Taking a look at commodities this afternoon, oil has steadied today as investors weigh demand recovery hopes from the world’s top crude importer China, against fears of a global economic slowdown. Oil is trading at US$80.33/barrel this afternoon. Gold is down 0.31% at US$1931.56/ounce and iron ore is flat at US$124.50/tonne.

The Aussie dollar is buying US$0.71, 92.61 Japanese Yen, 57.12 British Pence, NZ$1.09.

There will be no weekly wrap this week due to the January public holiday. We will return to normal scheduling from Monday 30th January.

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