ASX recovers from earlier fall sparked by shaky performance on Wall Street


Australia’s share market endured a choppy session on Wednesday but finished the day in positive territory despite speculation over further US stimulus measures which has prompted jitters on Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ ASX 200 index ended the day up 7.5 points, or 0.1 per cent to 6686.6, with the energy sector being the primary driver for the index’s recovery after a 0.3 per cent fall to a four-day low at midday to 6657.1.

The broader All Ordinaries index rose 12.5 points, or 0.2 per cent to 6951.6, while the Australian dollar at the close was fetching 77.59 US cents.

Mixed performance has in part been fuelled by a wavered Wall Street which is looking ahead to January 20, when incoming US President Joe Biden is likely announce details about a fiscal stimulus to boost the economy through the pandemic.

At the close of the US financial markets, the Dow rose 0.2 per cent, the S&P 500 remained flat and the Nasdaq finished up 0.3 per cent.

ANZ economist Catherine Birch said the size of the package was still unknown.

“New measures are expected to include increased direct payments ($2000 vs $600) to households, the funding of vaccine provision, support for state and local governments, extended business support and expanded unemployment benefits,” she said.

“An unanswered question remains how Biden will finance it all and whether it will require higher taxes on the wealthy and big tech.”

Locally, Premier Investments had the largest daily gain, jumping 12.7 per cent to $25.35 per share following a trading update in which it anticipated earnings before tax and interest for the first half of financial 2021 to be between $221m and $223m — an estimated rise of more than 75 per cent compared to the prior corresponding period.

Medical tech company Polynovo incurred the largest share price fall, tumbling 9.2 per cent to $2.68 each.

This assisted in cementing the technology sector as one of the worst performers of the week.

Rising oil prices assisted in the spike in the performance of the energy stocks.

Axi market analyst Stephen Innes said oil was trading at values higher than pre-pandemic levels.

“Brent traded as high as $US56.75 after bouncing on a larger crude draw than expected,” he said.

“A weaker US dollar helped and complemented numerous price revisions by several analysts for still higher 2021 estimates on the tailwind from the surprise 1mb/d (one million barrels per day) cut announced by Saudi Arabia.”

Oil Search made strong gains on Wednesday, rising 6.2 per cent to $4.44 per share, while Woodside Petroleum shares edged 5.4 per cent higher to $26.68 each.

Major banks all ended the day slightly up with Commonwealth Bank shares rising 1 per cent to $85.97 per share and stock in Westpac increasing 0.5 per cent to $20.60 per share.

ANZ rose 0.5 per cent to $24.16 per share and NAB shares closed the session up 0.1 per cent to $23.48 each.

Mining giant Rio Tinto finished the session slightly lower by 0.5 per cent to $120.74 per share, while its major competitor BHP closed 0.5 per cent higher to $46.22 per share.

Qantas shares were 0.6 per cent lower to $4.80 per share and stock in Telstra jumped 2.6 per cent to $3.09 per share.

Supermarket group Coles saw its share price tumble 2.4 per cent to $17.96 each, while Woolworths fell 1.5 per cent to $39.31 per share.

Wesfarmers closed the day 0.5 per cent lower to $51.10 per share and Fortescue Metals rose 0.2 per cent to $25.17 per share.

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