Prospects of a straight week of gains were up in the air this morning when it seemed the Aussie share market would succumb to a rocky night on Wall Street.
Mixed results on major US indexes and the threat of profit-taking after a stellar week had our benchmark ASX 200 index sitting 0.4 per cent lower just before midday. However, a surge in our big banking stocks one again carried the index to its sixth gain in a row.
The ASX 200 closed a marginal 0.12 per cent higher at 5998.70 points.
The financials sector outperformed yet again, closing 1.92 per cent higher today. Leading the charge among our big four was Westpac, up 3.36 per cent, but once again the rest weren’t far behind. NAB closed 2.96 per cent higher, ANZ 2.92 per cent higher, and Commonwealth Bank 1.58 per cent higher.
The energy sector supported the win following some increases in the price of Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate. Woodside gained a somewhat-muted 0.82 per cent, while Oil Search tacked on 2.29 per cent. Santos gained 1.59 per cent and Origin Energy 1.14 per cent.
However, for all the day’s gains, health care and tech stocks weighed the ASX down.
Biotech giant CSL lost 3.02 per cent and hearing aid specialist Cochlear lost 2.3 per cent. Ramsay lost 3.3 per cent, Fisher and Paykel 3.23 per cent, and Sonic 0.62 per cent.
In the world of tech, buy now, pay later darling Afterpay lost 3.05 per cent and Xero lost 2.19 per cent. Computershare held on to a slight 0.37 per cent gain. Nevertheless, Altium and Appen lost 4.25 per cent and 4.59 per cent, respectively.
As for the heavyweight materials sector, mixed results across the board kept things subdued today. While BHP gained 0.06 per cent and Rio Tinto gained 0.2 per cent, Fortescue lost 0.41 per cent and Newcrest lost 0.03 per cent.
Taking a look at Asian markets, it’s green across all major indexes this afternoon. When the ASX closed for the long weekend, the Asia Dow was sitting 0.81 per cent higher and the Nikkei 225 0.74 per cent higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was 0.70 per cent higher.
The Australian dollar surged again today as our local currency teases 70 US cents for the first time since early January. One dollar currently buys 69.76 US cents, 55.30 pence, and 11.76 South African Rand.
Today’s ups and downs
Uranium tech company Silex Resources (ASX:SLX) topped the gainers list today after amending a 2016 sales deal with Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) and the US Department of Energy. The agreement has been amended to better align with current nuclear fuel market conditions. In particular, the new deal gives GLE access to large stockpiles of uranium hexafluoride tails currently owned by the Department of Energy. Shares in Silex tacked on a healthy 41.79 per cent to close worth 47.5 cents each.
Meanwhile, lithium explorer Anson Resources (ASX:ASN) shaved off nearly a quarter of its value after retracting some key statements from a previously-announced preliminary economic assessment of its Paradox Project in Utah. The assessment highlighted three key phases for the development of the project, but the third phase has been retracted. It seems the ASX was unhappy with the forward-looking statements made in the original announcement. ASN shares lost 23.4 per cent today to close worth 3.6 cents each.