The Australian sharemarket finished a choppy session marginally lower, despite positive overseas sentiment, with Wall Street boosted by the passing of a $US1 trillion ($A1.35 trillion) infrastructure bill.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 18 points or 0.24 per cent lower at 7434.2, while the All Ordinaries Index eased 11.6 points or 0.15 per cent to 7756.3.
CommSec analyst Tim Piotrowski said the local bourse seesawed as investors tread cautiously.
The main drag was the banks, but miners helped limit losses.
ANZ dropped 1.55 per cent to $27.91, Commonwealth Bank shed 1.2 per cent to $108.81, Westpac gave up 1.4 per cent to $22.52 and National Australia Bank slipped 0.76 per cent to $28.89 after reporting its full-year results and holding its AGM.
Ord Minnett was hard to impress, saying NAB’s cash profit of $6.558bn – up almost 77 per cent from fiscal 2020 – was slightly below its expectations, but capital was much better than expected.
Citi described the result as “the highest quality of the reporting season” while Macquarie Research dubbed it “clean”.
“Weak markets income was the key disappointment, which was offset by low impairment charges,” Macquarie Research said.
“Excluding markets revenue, the pre-provision result was only marginally below our expectations due to slightly higher expenses.
“Operationally, NAB is performing well, and in our view, deserves a premium relative to ANZ and WBC.”
NAB also revealed the results of its oil and gas financing review, saying it would only consider bankrolling greenfield gas projects in Australia “where it plays a role in underpinning national energy security”.
The bank says it will not directly finance greenfield oil projects or on-board new customers with a predominant focus on oil extraction.
Despite higher oil prices overnight, Woodside retreated 1.16 per cent to $22.98, Santos weakened 1.28 per cent to $6.95, Beach Energy backtracked 1.87 per cent to $1.31 and Origin declined 1.19 per cent to $4.99.
Among the big iron ore miners, BHP added 0.96 per cent to $36.73 and Fortescue lifted 1.8 per cent to $14.59 ahead of its annual general meeting at 3pm WST, but Rio Tinto eased 0.19 per cent to $88.98.
Chalice Mining rocketed 28.5 per cent to $8.70 after reporting the maiden mineral resource for the Gonneville deposit at its wholly owned Julimar project about 70km northeast of Perth, which it claims is the largest nickel sulphide discovery globally in more than 20 years, and biggest platinum group elements find in Australian history.
The maiden resource estimate is interpreted to cover just 7 per cent of the 26km-long Julimar Complex containing six “payable” metals, Chalice says.
Other big movers were Lynas Rare Earths, up 7.59 per cent at $7.80, and lithium miner Pilbara Minerals, up 4.37 per cent at $2.39.
Among gold producers, Ramelius Resources put on 4.9 per cent to $1.71, St Barbara appreciated 2.98 per cent to $1.55 and Northern Star Resources gained 2.12 per cent to $10.13, but Perseus Mining slipped 1.79 per cent to $1.65.
Australia’s biggest miner of the precious metal, Newcrest, announced it had inked a deal to buy Pretium Resources, which owns the Brucejack operation in Canada.
The asset is within the Golden Triangle region of British Columbia, where Newcrest has a 70 per cent stake in the Red Chris mine.
But its $US2.8bn ($A3.77bn) price tag is “quite a lofty one”, Mr Piotrowski said, and its shares declined 1.58 per cent to $24.96.
Stanmore Resources slumped 10.59 per cent to $1.05 after surging 14 per cent on Monday on the back of the announcement it would pay up to $US1.35bn ($A1.82bn) to acquire BHP’s 80 per cent share in two Queensland coking coal mines.
Retailer Kathmandu gave a trading update showing Australasian lockdowns had hit it hard, with the group’s same store sales including online for the 13 weeks to October 31 down 17.6 per cent.
Rip Curl sales were down 9.4 per cent, despite demand for its wetsuits continuing to exceed available supply.
Kathmandu would not provide guidance, but said trading was expected to improve in the second half and it had “sufficient” stock to meet expected demand during the critical Black Friday and Christmas trading periods.
Its shares lifted 0.66 per cent to $1.52.
Poultry producer Inghams Group backtracked 4.5 per cent to $3.39 after Aware Super ceased to be a substantial shareholder.
Biotech giant CSL added 0.89 per cent to $314.88, reversing yesterday’s losses.
Tech stocks performed well, with buy-now-pay-later market leader Afterpay gaining 2.37 per cent to $119.52, smaller rival Zip advancing 1.79 per cent to $6.24 and Tyro Payments jumping 5.03 per cent to $3.34.
The Aussie dollar was fetching 74.15 US cents, 54.62 British pence and 63.88 Euro cents in afternoon trade.