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After a promising start to the week, Aussie shares retreated for the second day in a row after a downbeat session on Wall Street.

There seems to have been no major news signalling the declines outside of the COVID-19 economic struggles that investors have become accustomed to. It seems the plight of businesses struck down by the virus is outweighing the good fortune of those thriving from it today.

Our benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index saw a few moments of green in the early minutes of trade, but quickly declined thereafter. Come market close, the index was 0.38 per cent lower at 5364.20 points. Nevertheless, thanks to strong gains of Monday and Tuesday, the index is still 118.30 points higher over the whole of this week.

It was once more our financials sector that anchored the market today. Last week, our big banks managed to stand strong in the face of suspended dividend, profit downgrades, and capital raises. This week, however, it seems the sector has lost some of its grit.

Westpac led the losses today with a 2.26 per cent decline. NAB, however, was not far behind as it shaved off 2.26 per cent of its value. ANZ lost 2.16 per cent and Commonwealth Bank lost 1.81 per cent. Investment banker Macquarie Group managed to outperform and hold on to a 0.10 per cent gain.

Interestingly, energy stocks were one of the biggest drags on the ASX today. Like our banks, the sector managed to withstand an onslaught of oil price blows last week. Today, despite a marginal increase in the price of oil, energy stocks slipped.

Woodside lost 1.37 per cent, Santos lost 1.86 per cent, and Oil Search lost 2.71 per cent.

Nevertheless, the heavyweight materials sector managed to close green today. Iron ore giants BHP and Fortescue Metals gained 1.94 per cent and 1.69 per cent, respectively — enough to offset Rio Tinto’s 0.59 per cent decline.

Of course, gains among the sector were muted as our big gold producers performed inversely to our iron ore stocks, as per usual. Newcrest lost 2.86 per cent, Northern Star lost 0.47 per cent, and Saracen Mineral Holdings lost 0.23 per cent.

It was a similarly tepid morning on Asian markets today. When the ASX closing bell sounded, Japan’s Nikkei 225 was the strongest-performing index with a marginal 0.01 per cent rise. The Asia Dow was lower by 0.83 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng by 0.77 per cent.

Meanwhile, a strong run in the Australian dollar continued again today. Currently, one dollar buys 64.24 US cents, 52.09 pence, and 12.02 South African Rand.

Today’s ups and downs

Gold explorer Alt Resources (ASX:ARS) was today’s top gainer after receiving a takeover bid from Aurenne Group Holdings. The bid offered 5.05 cents per share to take full control of all ARS shares — a healthy premium to the company’s last closing price of three cents. ARS shares quickly surged ahead on news of the offer, closing 44.83 per cent higher at 4.2 cents each.

Meanwhile, yesterday’s top gained became one of today’s top losers as it fell victim to some profit-taking. E2 Metals (ASX:E2M) more-than-doubled in value yesterday after returning some strong assay results from drilling in Argentina. Today, the company lost over a fifth of its new value as shareholders take their profits from yesterday’s win. E2M shares closed 21.05 per cent lower at 15 cents each — still 66.67 per cent higher than their previous close before yesterday.

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