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ASX hits April highs, energy, materials gain, mixed results for lithium stocks

Daily Market Update

The local market managed to finish what appeared a mixed week on a positive note, gaining 0.2 per cent. Powered by the energy and materials sectors, up 1.4 and 0.9, on news of higher iron ore and oil prices, the S&P/ASX200 managed a 1.7 per cent gain for the week. Whitehaven Coal (ASX: WHC) was the standout once again, with shares adding 6.2 per cent after forecasting a quadrupling of first half earnings to $2.6 billion on surging coal prices and demand. It was a similar story for lithium miner Pilbara (ASX: PLS) which gained 13.2 per cent after beating production forecasts by as much as 16 per cent and shipments by 4 per cent as the commodity success story continued its strong recent run. On the other end, Liontown (ASX: LTR) fell 8.3 per cent after warning of higher costs at its own mine and a blowout in production costs. Across the week it was the healthcare and energy sectors pushing the market higher, up 5 and 2 per cent.

Nasdaq jumps on tech outperformance, Alphabet joins job cuts, Netflix returns to growth

US markets are facing the first of what many expect to be an extended period of earnings downgrades, with the Dow Jones overcoming weakness from the financial sector to post a 1 per cent gain on Friday. The Nasdaq outperformed, adding 2.7 per cent, and the S&P500 gained 1.9 per cent after as the FANG stocks together rallied by more than 4 per cent. Alphabet (NYSE: GOOGL) was the standout, gaining 5.7 per cent after the company announced its intention to make significant cuts to their work force, news that took technology job cuts over 200,000 since the peak. Microsoft (NYSE: MSFT) and Amazon (NYSE: AMZN) also gained 3.6 and 3.8 per cent while Netflix (NYSE: NFLX) added 8.5 per cent. News that the group had added 7.7 million subscribers in the final quarter and that the founder would step down as CEO was enough to boost the entire sector. Across the week the Nasdaq was alone in posting a 0.6 per cent gain, with the Dow Jones falling 2.7 and the S&P500 0.7 per cent.
All eyes on New Zealand, job cut trend grows as tech recovers, Japanese inflation catches up
All eyes were across the ditch this week after the news that New Zealand PM Jacinta Ardern had resigned. After governing for five years and dominated by both booming economic times and then the pandemic, Arden walks away ahead of an election where the cost of living is expected to be the focus. Reports have suggested that as many as 200,000 layoffs of firings have occurred in the technology sector since the beginning of 2022, with the current reporting season a sign of this accelerating. Alphabet benefitted for news of around 6 per cent of their workforce being made redundant, while the financial sector is also following the trend as capital flows and activity is expected to slow. Finally, the Japanese economy appears to be finally feeling the brunt of the inflation challenge in the rest of the world, with prices increases to 4 per cent, a 41 year high, but interest rates remaining firmly fixed at 0 per cent.

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