ASX eases from record highs, energy, healthcare drag

ASX eases from record highs, energy, healthcare drag

After hitting record highs on Friday, CSL shares fell 1.6 per cent to $294.50.

The energy sector also finished down 1.1 per cent. Woodside Petroleum shed 1.2 per cent to $35.43, Origin Energy 1.7 per cent to $8.58 while Cooper Energy slumped 3.2 per cent to $0.60 after flagging delays to the upgrade of its Orbost Gas Processing Plant due to recent bushfire activity.

Retailers were also pressured, coinciding with the release of data from ANZ Bank that warned card spending at retailers ahead of Christmas was particularly weak.

“Very strong Black Friday sales are likely to be behind the [result],” said ANZ’s head of Australian economics David Plank. “The bushfires and smoke haze may also have been a factor.”

Consumer staples lost 0.7 per cent as Woolworths fell 1 per cent to $37.43 while rival Coles Group slipped 1.2 per cent to $15.47. Discretionary retailers fared better, easing by a smaller 0.2 per cent.

Despite the weakness at retailers, Australia’s listed buy now pay later providers had a strong session following the release of a strong update from Zip Co at the start of trade.

“The buy-now-pay-later company posted record quarterly revenue of $38.5 million over the three months to December,” Commsec market analyst Steven Daghlian told clients. “The number of customers using Z1P jumped by 24 per cent to 1.8 million, while merchants using its platform expanded to 20,875.”

Zip gained 3.1 per cent to $3.64 while rival Afterpay Touch soared 4.5 per cent to $32.53, the latter helping the broader technology sector lift 0.8 per cent.

At the other end of the score board, Virgin Money UK slumped 3.7 per cent to $3.38, the largest percentage decline on the benchmark.

For the session, 74 companies rose, 112 declined while 14 were unchanged.

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