Aussie investors braced for another heavy blow this morning but lifted their heads in the afternoon to a calm sea of green.
A sorry start to the month on Wall Street, another decline in the price of oil, and a bleak outlook in US futures saw the ASX quickly slump in the first 40 minutes of trade.
However, the losses were short-lived, with a lunchtime recovery in financials, health care, and staples stocks carrying the ASX into the green.
When the closing bell sounded for the day, the benchmark ASX 200 index was 1.41 per cent higher at 5319.80 points — taking back just over a quarter of Friday’s steep decline.
The technology sector was the one constant on the market today, opening strong and closing stronger. The sector was the pick of the litter with a 5.04 per cent gain.
Buy now, pay later darling Afterpay was back to its old tricks today with a hefty 23.80 per cent surge. The rest of the big tech players had far more modest gains, with Xero tacking on 1.99 per cent, Computershare 0.53 per cent, and WiseTech 4.71 per cent.
Health care stocks added their own weight to the day’s gains as biotech giant CSL led the pack and won back 2.89 per cent. Cochlear gained 1.41 per cent. Meanwhile, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare gained 0.23 per cent, Ramsay Health Care gained 0.67 per cent, and Sonic Healthcare closed grey.
Westpac led the gains among our big banking stocks today despite a bleak half-yearly financial report. The banking giant is joining its sister stocks in suspending its dividend after its half-year profits slumped 70 per cent.
Nevertheless, shareholders ignored the news and placed some buy orders, seeing Westpac close 2.80 per cent higher. ANZ gained 2.54 per cent, NAB gained 1.98 per cent, and bringing in the rear was Commonwealth Bank with a 1.77 per cent gain.
Meanwhile, it was a stellar day for staples stocks, which have emerged as some of the few winners over the COVID-19 mayhem. Today, Woolworths gained 2.32 per cent and Coles gained 2.38 per cent. The A2 Milk Company climbed 5.29 per cent higher, while Metcash gained 1.32 per cent.
It was a mixed day among our big miners. While BHP fought off the red and gained 0.13 per cent, Fortescue and Rio Tinto were not so lucky. Fortescue lost 1.73 per cent and Rio lost 1.56 per cent.
Of course, gold stocks reclaimed their position as the materials sector’s saviour as healthy gains from each of our major gold producers pushed the sector to a 0.5 per cent green close. Each of our top 10 gold stocks by market cap gained more than four per cent today.
Newcrest closed 6.56 per cent higher, Northern Star 5.87 per cent higher, and Saracen Mineral Holdings 7.05 per cent higher.
As for the major Asian indexes, only the Shanghai Composite saw green today. When the ASX closed, the Asia Dow was 1.85 per cent lower, the Nikkei 225 was 2.84 per cent lower, and the Hang Seng was 3.83 per cent lower. Shanghai’s benchmark index was 1.33 per cent green.
The Australian dollar is slightly lower today, currently worth 63.96 US cents, 51.27 pence, and 12.04 South African Rand.