ASX lifts on mining rebound, Macquarie first-half earnings to fall 35pc

Australian shares have kicked off the week with solid gains, driven mainly by mining and energy stocks.

By 10:50am AEST, the benchmark ASX 200 index had risen by 0.5 per cent to 5,888 points.

The Australian dollar had slipped (-0.1pc) to 72.73 US cents.

Some of the best performing stocks include coal miners Whitehaven Coal (+7.3pc) and New Hope Corporation (+4.7pc), as well as nickel producer Western Areas (+5.9pc).

Iron ore mining giants BHP (+2.1pc) and Fortescue Metals (+0.8pc) have also risen sharply.

Rio Tinto shares jumped (+3.2pc) after the company dumped its chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques and two senior executives on Friday.

An internal review found those executives were partially responsible for the mining company’s decision to destroy an ancient Aboriginal site, the Juukan Gorge, earlier this year.

The mining giant cut their bonuses, worth millions of dollars, but that was widely seen outside the company as an inadequate penalty.

On the flip side, the worst performers include Cleanaway Waste Management (-6.4pc), Macquarie Group (-4.8pc), Breville Group (-3pc) and Afterpay (-2.2pc).

Macquarie earnings to slip

Macquarie Group dropped after it provided a disappointing update on its profitability.

The investment bank expects its first-half earnings to have dropped by around 35 per cent (compared with the first half of the 2019-2020 financial year).

It also said market conditions were likely to remain challenging, “especially given the significant and unprecedented uncertainty caused by the worldwide impact of COVID-19 and the uncertain speed of the global economic recovery”.

“The extent to which these conditions will adversely impact Macquarie’s overall FY21 profitability is uncertain, making short-term forecasting extremely difficult.”

Last week, the ASX dropped 1.1 per cent, with energy (-5.7pc) and technology (-3.6pc) shares enduring the brunt of the selling.

Today’s strong performance also comes after a Wall Street sell-off, sparked by fears of a “tech bubble”.

Shares in Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, which had been some of the best performing stocks since the pandemic began, have been sold off recently.

Last week, there were heavy losses for the Dow Jones (-1.7pc), S&P 500 (-2.5pc) and Nasdaq indices (-4.1pc).

Spot gold was flat at $US1942.16 an ounce, while Brent crude oil was steady at $US39.81 a barrel.