ASX rebounds despite energy sector losses

Australian shares have closed higher as China took steps to prop up its economy and global manufacturing data showed factory activity rebounding in January.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Tuesday up 25.4 points, or 0.37 per cent, at 6,948.7, while the broader All Ordinaries index gained 27.7 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 7,047.6.

"It's obviously been a crazy few days. Are we out of the tunnel looking through the other side?" asked Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston, referring to losses on Monday and last week following the coronavirus epidemic.

"That's what the brave souls out there are trying to find out," Mr Weston said.

"I still don't think there's a huge amount of clarity."

The ASX did, however, get clarity on rates on Tuesday with the Reserve Bank electing to leave them on hold for another month, rather than lower them to 0.5 per cent.

The ASX200 lost 25.1 points in the space of 26 minutes after the RBA's announcement, although it subsequently made up some of that.

The consumer staples sector was the biggest gainer, rising 1.2 per cent as Woolies climbed 1.3 per cent to an all-time high of $42.38.

Coles was up 1.9 per cent to an all-time high of $16.81.

Consumer discretionary shares also had a good day, as Harvey Norman gained 5.9 per cent to a three-month high of $4.51, while JB Hi-Fi rose 3.5 per cent to an all-time closing high of $41.15.

Online furniture retailer Temple & Webster soared 23.3 per cent to an all-time high of $3.49 after announcing a 50 per cent boost in first-half revenue.

Afterpay rose 4.8 per cent to $39.88 - hitting an all-time high of $39.98 - while buy now, pay later rival Zip Co shot up 12.4 per cent to $4.35.

The big banks were were mixed, although ANZ climbed 1.5 per cent to $25.67.

NAB rose 0.4 per cent to $25.60 while CBA dropped 0.3 per cent to $84.31 and Westpac lost a cent to $24.80.

In the healthcare sector, CSL rose 0.6 per cent to $313.35, while Polynovo gained 2.1 per cent and Fisher & Paykel climbed 2.8 per cent.

The energy sector sagged 1.1 per cent as the price of Brent crude lingered under $US55 a barrel with Oil Search, Beach Energy, Origin Energy and Woodside Petroleum all falling between 1.5 and 2.5 per cent.

While the RBA's decision was not unexpected, the Aussie dollar shot up half a per cent on the news, rising from 66.86 US cents to 67.23 US cents in 10 minutes.

At 1654 AEDT, the Aussie had eased somewhat, buying 67.18 US cents, up from 67.02 US cents at the market close on Monday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished up 25.4 points, or 0.37 per cent, at 6,948.7 points.

* The All Ordinaries closed up 27.7 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 7,047.6 points.

* The SPI200 futures index closed up 29 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 6,888 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 67.16 US cents, from 67.02 US cents on Monday

* 73.07 Japanese yen, from 73.72 yen

* 60.73 euro cents, from 60.46 cents

* 51.60 British pence, from 50.92 pence

* 103.86 NZ cents, from 103.55 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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