ASX rallies with gains across the board

Australian shares have hit a two-week high after an upbeat lead from Wall Street, with gains across the board.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index finished Tuesday up 42.8 points, or 0.61 per cent, at 7,055.3, while the broader All Ordinaries index climbed 43.4 points, or 0.61 per cent, to 7,151.4.

"We're doing OK-ish day today, following on a bit of positivity overnight," said Australian Stock Report senior advisor Tom Armstrong.

"Bit of a mixed bag really," he said, noting that Cochlear shares declined 3.4 per cent to $236.47 after the hearing implant maker issued an earnings downgrade because the coronavirus epidemic was delaying hearing implant surgeries in China.

But IG market analyst Kyle Rodda was more optimistic, saying the rally was driven by positive sentiment and trading volumes had been above average.

"For all the fundamental reasons to be a bit sceptical about the ASX - and there are a few - things are looking constructive still for Australian stocks," he wrote in a note.

Biopharmaceutical giant CSL hit yet another all time high, closing up 0.9 per cent at $325.73 ahead of its half-year earnings announcement on Wednesday.

All the big banks were up, led by ANZ, which rose 0.7 per cent to $26.13.

Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac all gained half a percentage point, to finish at $84.72, $25.90 and $25.10, respectively.

Challenger LImited was the biggest ASX200 gainer, soaring 13.9 per cent to a one-year high of $10.10 after it was on track to achieve the top end of its full-year guidance range after a three per cent rise in half-year before-tax profit.

Suncorp fell 1.3 per cent to $12.35 after its statutory half-year net profit from ongoing operations dropped 7.2 per cent to $348 million, weighed down by a surge of bushfire and hailstorm claims.

The tech sector was the biggest gainers, rising 1.7 per cent as Appen gained 4.5 per cent to $26.77, Afterpay rose 2.3 per cent to $39.39 and WiseTech Global rose 2.5 per cent to $28.35.

The heavyweight mining sector rose 0.6 per cent as BHP gained 0.4 per cent to $38.56, Rio Tinto rose 0.3 per cent to $98.63 and Fortescue Metals rose 2.4 per cent to $11.11.

Goldminers were mixed, with Evolution dropping 3.9 per cent and Saracen Mineral down 0.5 per cent, while Northern Star gained 0.4 per cent after reporting its half-year net profit after tax rose 53 per cent to $139.4 million.

Also, Newcrest rose 0.6 per cent after an injunction preventing talks on its Wafi-Golpu project in Papua New Guinea was lifted.

Two burn treatment biotech companies, Polynovo and Avita Medical, both had strong days, with Polynovo rising 4.2 per cent to $3 and Avita gaining 5.2 per cent to 80.5 cents

Building material companies James Hardie rose 2.3 per cent to $32.135 before being granted a trading halt after its earnings materials set to be released on Wednesday were potentially prematurely released in error overseas.

After the market closed, the Dublin-headquartered company said its net quarterly profit had dropped by a third to $US45.6 million ($A67.9m), primarily driven by more asbestos claims.

The Australian dollar was buying 67.11 US cents, from 67.01 US cents on Monday.

Looking forward, CSL, CBA and IAG are among the companies reporting earnings on Wednesday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished up 42.8 points, or 0.61 per cent, at 7,055.3 points.

* The All Ordinaries closed up 43.4 points, or 0.61 per cent, at 7,151.4 points.

* At 1719 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down nine points, or 0.13 per cent, at 6,981 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 67.16 US cents, from 67.01 US cents on Monday

* 73.81 Japanese yen, from 73.58 yen

* 61.57 euro cents, from 61.18 cents

* 52.00 British pence, from 51.94 pence

* 104.99 NZ cents, from 104.56 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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