Finance: ASX flat as health stocks plummet; CSL, the Fisher & Paykel, CBA, Westpac, NAB, ANZ

The Australian share market finished flat on Thursday as the benchmark was dragged lower by heavy losses in health stocks.

The S & P/ASX200 rose just 2.6 per cent to close at 7,091. The All Ordinaries climbed slightly higher, increasing 6.1 points to 7287.4.

On the benchmark, seven of 11 sectors finished the green with healthcare stocks the clear laggard, tumbling 4.5 per cent.

Early in the trading session, stocks had rallied after a positive lead from Wall St as traders became increasingly confident the US Federal Reserve had finished raising interest rates for now following the release of its fresh board minutes.

In the minutes, Fed officials “noted that it was important to balance the risk of overtightening against the risk of insufficient tightening.”

As a result the Dow Jones index rose by 66 points or 0.2 per cent. The S & P 500 index gained 0.4 per cent and the Nasdaq index added 97 points or 0.7 per cent.

Back home, health sector heavyweight CSL tumbled 6.3 per cent to $238.24 a share after news that weight loss drug Ozempic could compete with the firm’s kidney disease treatment products. Separately, Fisher & Paykel sank 4.4 per cent to $19.75.

Financial stocks were the top performers, with the big four banks all rising. Commonwealth Bank jumped 1 per cent to $101.60, Westpac rose 0.9 per cent to $21.63, NAB rose 0.9 per cent to $29.56 and ANZ advanced 0.8 per cent to $25.86.

Among commodities, the November contract for iron ore on the Singapore exchange rose 0.8 per cent to close at $US113.40 a tonne. Meanwhile the bump in crude oil prices appeared short lived with Brent crude falling 0.2 per cent to $85.64.

In company news, takeover target Liontown Resources fell 1.7 per cent to $2.87 after the lithium miner extended the due diligence period for Albemarle’s $4.2bn buyout.

Shares in Redbubble soared 30.4 per cent to 60c, the best day for the online marketplace since June 2020, following its announcement that underlying cash flow rose $16.9m to a positive $700,000 cash flow position.

Tabcorp shares fell 6.2 per cent to 91.5¢ after revenue dropped 6.1 per cent in the September quarter.

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