The ASX finished flat after two straight days of gains as shares in buy now pay later market darling Afterpay climbed to a fresh record.
The ASX finished flat after two straight days of gains as shares in buy now pay later market darling Afterpay climbed to a fresh record.

ASX flat as Afterpay hits record

The Australian sharemarket finished flat after two straight days of gains, with buy-now-pay-later market darling Afterpay among the winners along with iron ore and energy stocks.

The S&P/ASX200 closed just 0.10 points higher at 6715.4 while the All Ordinaries Index inched ahead by 4.1 points to 6986.8.

Axi chief global market strategist Stephen Innes said US stocks edged lower overnight as investors awaited details of the incoming Biden administration's plans for a new coronavirus relief package.

CommSec analyst James Tao said it wasn't much for local investors to go on.

Afterpay hit a record high, leaping 10.04 per cent to $133.15.

But Tyro Payments plunged 11.79 per cent to $2.32 after being targeted by mysterious short sellers Viceroy Research, which describe themselves as "a group of individuals that see the world differently", over an ongoing, more than week long outage to EFTPOS terminals that has frustrated thousands of small businesses.

The Tyro EFTPOS outage has frustrated businesses for more than a week.
The Tyro EFTPOS outage has frustrated businesses for more than a week.

Viceroy said Tyro had "singled itself out as the most unreliable and technologically inferior fintech in Australia".

"It has no disaster recovery plan and has left businesses, including medical facilities, without any means to collect payment from customers," Viceroy said.

Tyro then placed its shares into a trading halt, saying the Viceroy report "made false assertions" and it would next week provide an update, including progress with its recovery plan.

Mr Tao said Tyro shares had been hammered due to the outage, down about 30 per cent just this week.

Jewellery retailer Michael Hill jumped 7.35 per cent to 73 cents after providing a trading update showing higher sales and significant earnings growth for the December quarter, and announcing it would pay out its deferred interim dividend on January 29.

Michael Hill shares jumped after a positive trading update. Picture: Richard Walker
Michael Hill shares jumped after a positive trading update. Picture: Richard Walker

Higher iron ore prices overnight boosted Fortescue Metals Group, up 1.7 per cent to $25.18, Rio Tinto, which added 0.72 per cent to $120.52 and BHP, which rose 1.65 per cent to $46.82.

Improved oil prices also helped energy stocks. Woodside Petroleum added 0.56 per cent to $26.76 and Oil Search put on 0.23 per cent to $4.41 but Santos declined 1.07 per cent to $7.42.

As widely expected, shareholders in Saracen Mineral Holdings overwhelmingly voted in favour of merging with the gold miner's joint venture partner at the massive Super Pit in Western Australia, Northern Star Resources.

The tie-up will create a global top-10 gold producer and Australia's second biggest miner of the precious metal behind Newcrest, with a market capitalisation of $16bn.

Northern Star executive chairman Bill Beament and Saracen managing director Raleigh Finlayson have been all smiles since announcing the ‘merger of equals’. Picture: Colin Murty/The Australian
Northern Star executive chairman Bill Beament and Saracen managing director Raleigh Finlayson have been all smiles since announcing the ‘merger of equals’. Picture: Colin Murty/The Australian

Saracen shares dipped 0.2 per cent to $4.81 while Northern Star eased 0.94 per cent to $12.72.

Vicinity Centres appreciated 4.95 per cent to $1.59 while fellow shopping centre owner Scentre Group gained 5.04 per cent to $2.92.

ANZ inched 0.24 per cent higher to $24.66, Commonwealth Bank gave up 1.1 per cent to $85.38, National Australia Bank put on 1.51 per cent to $24.14 and Westpac appreciated 1.52 per cent to $21.35.

The Aussie dollar was buying 77.55 US cents, 56.67 British pence and 63.86 Euro cents in afternoon trade.

Originally published as ASX flat as Afterpay hits record