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ASX backs away from the 11-month highs

The Australian share market fell into the red after returning online from a short public holiday period in observance Australia Day.

At the closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell -44.1 points, or -0.65%, to 6,780.5, while the All Ordinaries closed lower -51.2 points, or -0.72%, at 7,060.2.

The mining sectors displayed the worst session in eight months which dragged the ASX lower due to the price of iron ore falling -2.3%, overnight, while gold and oil also joined in on the declined.

The materials sector fell like a stone, with Fortescue Metals Group leading the titans lower, plummeting -6.4% to $23.68, Rio Tinto fell -3.88% to $117.05, and BHP Group tumbled -3.37%, to $45.05.

For our oil and gas producers, several resource stocks are continuing to release their latest quarterly updates ahead of the February profit reporting season.

Oil Search (OSH) has produced a little less LNG over the December quarter, but thanks to surging energy prices its revenues still jumped by close to +40%, over the December quarter (compared to the September quarter). (OSH) ended down -3.26% to $4.16.

Woodside shares slid -2.89%, to $25.57, Origin Energy dropped -2.59%, to $4.88, AGL Energy declined -0.86%, to $11.55.

Meanwhile, Beach Energy (BPT) fell -5.5%, to $1.76 after reporting an -8% fall in production for the December quarter, compared with the three months to September, as operations were impacted by maintenance at the Otway gas plant during November.

On the flipside, Reliance Worldwide (RWC) rallied +7.5%, to $4.37 after the release of a trading update this morning.

Strong demand for plumbing supplies across all its markets (Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe) highlighted a minimum +30% lift in underlying profits, a +13%, rise in sales over the past half, a reduction in costs and lower debt.

The ASX 200 struggle to find initial support after returning from yesterday’s public holiday with Wall Street’s three major indices ending just under the waterline at the finishing bell, on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

In the U.S., more than 3 million Americans have received two doses of either vaccine, as of Monday afternoon according to data published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They are primarily adults living or working in long-term care facilities and frontline health-care workers who received priority access to the vaccine across all states.

Both vaccines take at least two weeks from the receipt of the second dose to build up an immune response.

According to late-stage trials, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine offers 95% efficacy while the Moderna vaccine provides 94% efficacy.

Even the Healthcare sector was mixed with Biotechnology giant CSL lost -0.12%, to $275.20, while ResMed surged +2.44%, to $27.90, Cochlear gained +1.29%, to $201.55, Ramsay Health added +0.17%, to $63.44 and Mesoblast lost -0.83%, to $2.39.

The Financial sector was mixed with the Commonwealth Bank added +1.56%, to $86.60, while the National Australia Bank rose +0.37%, to $24.22, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group lost -0.53%, to $24.55, Westpac Banking Corp dipped -0.6%, to $21.66, and Macquarie Group slid -1.05% and settled at $135.64.

Gold resources displayed a mixed session with Newcrest Mining losing -1.03%, to $26.07, Northern Star Resources rose +0.23%, to $13.26, Saracen Mineral added +0.6%, to $5.00.

Travel stocks rose with Webjet adding +0.21%, to $4.78, while Flight Centre lost -1.39%, to $14.89, Qantas dropped -2.94%, to $4.63 and Regional Express rose +1.17%, to $1.73.

Meanwhile, our local currency, the Australian dollar is currently buying US$0.7720 (as of writing).