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FIVE at FIVE AU: ASX hits two-week low in a volatile month; iron ore price affects trade foreign balance

Published 05/04/2024, 03:09 pm
Updated 05/04/2024, 04:00 pm
© Reuters FIVE at FIVE AU: ASX hits two-week low in a volatile month; iron ore price affects trade foreign balance

The ASX hit a two-week low today.

The S&P/ASX200 had dropped 58.50 points or 0.75% to 7,758.80. The index has lost 1.75% for the last five days, but sits 1.92% below its 52-week high.

The bottom-performing stocks in this index are Champion Iron Ltd (ASX:CIA) and Capricorn Metals Ltd (ASX:CMM), down 6.44% and 4.92% respectively.

Looking at sector performance for the day, Energy was the only one in the green gaining 0.20%. The biggest loser was Information Technology which had last 1.56% at time of writing around 3pm.

Over the week, the best-performing sectors were Utilities and Energy up over 1%, followed by Materials up over half a per cent. The worst-performing sectors were Real Estate and Information Technology, which lost over 3%, followed by Consumer Discretionary, which was down over 2%.

The best-performing stocks in the ASX top 100 include Alumina Ltd and Evolution Mining Ltd (ASX:EVN), up over 8% and 6% respectively. South 32 Ltd followed and was up over 5%. The worst-performing stocks include Orora Limited, down over 16%, Block Inc (NYSE:SQ), down over 8% and Xero, which lost 6%.

What's next for the Australian stock market?

Wealth Within chief analyst Dale Gillham runs his eye over what to expect from the local market in the coming weeks.

“Last week, I mentioned we should expect volatility in April and boy, what a start we have had so far. On Wednesday, the market fell over 1.5%, with the sellers wiping away all last week's gains in one day. It’s very common that some of the most significant one-day falls occur during times when markets are rising strongly. However, I have no reason to ring the alarm bells as the All Ordinaries index is still trending upward uniformly from last October's low.

“Another reason I am bullish on our market in April is that historically, this month provides the best returns of any month in the year, with the average return being 2.63%. Given this, I anticipate the market will move up for the rest of this month before peaking in late April and turning down in May.

“That said, I don’t control the market, and there is a chance it may head south a little earlier, which means you need to be careful when buying stocks, especially in the second half of the month. If the market begins falling earlier, I would encourage you to watch the 7,800 and 7,500 levels for potential support.”

Australia’s foreign trade balance

Moody’s Analytics has just published an update on Australia’s foreign trade balance, covering February 2024.

It stated, “Australia’s goods surplus edged lower in February as imports continued to make gains and exports took a breather. Across February, imports jumped 4.8% m/m, while exports fell 2.2%. Stripping out some of the monthly noise, the trend estimate for the surplus held steady at A$9.5 billion.

“After a run of gains beginning in September last year, commodity prices have started to turn south. The Reserve Bank of Australia’s basket of commodity prices fell 4.9% m/m in March, building on a 1.9% fall in February. Relative to March 2023, commodity prices are down 15.3%.

“Falling iron ore prices are the main culprit. After peaking above $145 per tonne in January, iron ore prices are hovering back around $100. China’s ongoing property market capitulation is denting steel—and, by extension, iron ore—demand. The lacklustre support announced at the Two Sessions earlier last month is adding to steel manufacturers' concerns. China’s steel industry PMI dropped to 44.2 in March, well below the neutral 50 threshold and the lowest reading since May last year.”

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