ASX Close: Tech stocks spur market to afternoon reversal

Though the coronavirus continues to infect people across the globe, Australia's efforts to stem the spread are being reflected in our stock market recovery.

Even as the total number of worldwide COVID-19 infections approaches 5.5 million, Australia recorded just four new cases yesterday: one in New South Wales, one in Queensland, and two in Victoria. The rest of our States had zero new infections.

While this certainly doesn't mean our economic woes are over, fresh stimulus packages in Asia turned our economic outlook positive today. The Chinese government announced a 3.6 trillion yuan (A$7.7 billion) stimulus package to give its economy a kickstart. Talks of a trillion-dollar Japanese economic package are also making rounds in the media.

In response, our benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gained 2.16 per cent to reach a new two-month high. The index closed at 5615.60 points, which is 23.53 per cent higher than its COVID-19-induced mid-March trough.

All eleven sectors closed green today, but our technology sector was the cream of the crop. A remarkable 8.96 per cent gain from Afterpay saw the buy now, pay later darling close at an all-time high $48.50. The company has increased in value by 444.9 per cent since its March low.

Meanwhile, Xero gained 2.93 per cent, Computershare gained 3.36 per cent, and WiseTech gained 6.58 per cent.

The battered industrials sector continued its own recovery today, led by a 7.22 per cent increase in Qantas Airways' share price. Sydney Airport gained 3.86 per cent, Auckland Airport 4.24 per cent, and toll road operator Atlas Arteria 6.14 per cent.

Our heavyweight financials sector added its voice to the green chorus, spurred on by a 5.96 per cent gain from QBE Insurance. As for our big four, NAB gained 2.67 per cent, ANZ gained 2.36 per cent, Westpac gained 2.13 per cent, and Commonwealth Bank gained 0.49 per cent.

As for the big players among our resources stocks, BHP gained 1.28 per cent, Fortescue Metals 1.91 per cent, and Rio Tinto 1.29 per cent.

Our big gold producers added their own weight to the gains today. Newcrest gained a marginal 0.51 per cent, but Northern Star gained 1.17 per cent, Evolution 1.53 per cent, and Saracen 1.48 per cent.

Interestingly, while Aussie shares responded well to Asian stimulus measures, markets in the east had a somewhat-mixed response. When the ASX closed, the Asia Dow was 0.45 per cent higher and Japan's Nikkei 225 was 1.73 per cent higher. However, Hong Kong's Hang Seng was 0.48 per cent lower and the Shanghai Composite was 0.13 per cent lower.

The Australian dollar is slightly weaker against the US dollar today but stronger against the Pound sterling. One dollar is currently worth 65.3 US cents, 53.63 pence, and 11.46 South African Rand.

Today's ups and downs

Another mystery rally stole the spotlight from the rest of the gainer's list today. Aurora Minerals (ASX:ARM) closed 66.67 per cent higher than when it opened despite no company announcements, prompting an "explain yourself" query from the share market operator. ARM shrugged and said, "beats me". The company closed with shares worth three cents each — triple what they traded for this time last week.

Meanwhile, a delayed response to a Select Harvests (ASX:SHV) half-yearly report saw the company shave off a tenth of its value. The almond revealed on Friday some softening demand and a lower price of the crunchy snack saw half-yearly profit drop by over 13 per cent. Shares stayed strong on Friday afternoon but today slumped 11.88 per cent to close worth $6.75 each.


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