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Resources, medtech prove star ASX performers, energy stocks lead retreat

Patrick Buncsi22 May 2024
ASX share price Selfwealth trade

Investors’ steady retreat from energy stocks was among the biggest contributors to a nearly three percentage point drop in the S&P/ASX 200 index last month, according to new data from online broker platform Selfwealth.

Notably, a strong performer in recent years, oil and gas producer Woodside’s share price fell by 7.4% from the beginning to the end of April, hitting a more than two-year low for the stock.

Despite the drop, Woodside shares remained the second-most actively traded on the Selfwealth platform last month, with more than two-thirds of all trades being ‘buys’.

A retreat from consumer staples, real estate, and telecommunication shares also contributed to the overall decline in the index, Selfwealth reported.

Resources stocks – BHP, Fortescue and Pilbara Minerals – fared well, making up three of the top five traded stocks on the platform. BHP led the pack, with resources giant also hitting a 63.4% buy-to-sell ratio.

BHP, following its attempted but ultimately rejected takeover of London-listed rival Anglo America, also topped the list of public companies with the largest money flow in April, with around $64 million worth of shares traded throughout the month.

Likely driven by a surge in commodity prices (with “copper touching a two-year high, gold setting a record high, and coal prices rebounding”), other resources stocks – South32, Evolution Mining, and Whitehaven Coal – showed signs of strong trading interest in resources, Selfwealth wrote, with each company scraping into the top 20 for trading activity.

Shares in South 32 were up 19.7% for the month, while Evolution Mining and Whitehaven Coal increased by 13.4% and 8.7% respectively.

Among the ASX’s star performers last month – rising from 11th place to third position based on total trades – was medtech company Mesoblast, which saw a 77% surge in its share price.

This extends the near 90% rally for the medtech stock since March – with its share price jumping from $0.33 on 25 March to $1.10 at the beginning of May – as a result of a decision by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow the company to submit a Biologics License Application for a transformative paediatric treatment it devised.

According to Selfwealth, a few short-term traders have pumped up the stock, “with volatility a hallmark of trading over recent weeks”.

Meanwhile, tech dev-centred companies Zip Co, a buy now, pay later fintech, Droneshield, an anti-drone tech developer, and Appen, an AI/ML developer, maintained their resurgent popularity, Selfwealth said, with the trio “in the spotlight after an extended period of modest trading interest”.

Big four bank shares also saw strong buying support ahead of the segment’s half-year reporting period. Westpac, ANZ, and CBA all recorded a buy-to-sell ratio above 50%.

“The last time that at least three major banks achieved this feat in the same month was September 2023,” according to Selfwealth.

Westpac also moved into third place among the most popular holdings on the Selfwealth platform, “leapfrogging” both CSL and BHP.

Integrated commercial and industrial property operator Goodman Group also broke into the top 20 most traded ASX-listed stocks by value for the first time.

However, the broader real estate sector fell 7.8% as bond yields climbed higher and investors wagered on interest rates remaining higher for longer.

Meanwhile, Qantas returned to the top 20 most traded by value for the first time since November 2023. The airline’s share price touched an eight-month high in April, with the market responding favourably to a rejigging of its Frequent Flyer program and share buyback

Among ETFs by trade volume, Vanguard dominates among Selfwealth users. The Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF remains the top held ETF by Selfwealth investors, followed closely by the Vanguard MSCI Index International Shares ETF and Vanguard Diversified High Growth Index ETF. iShares S&P 500 ETF and Betashares Australia 200 ETF rounded out the top five ETFs.


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