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April was a month of recovery as our local share market enjoyed its first monthly gain since COVID-19 struck in February.

Just as further proof of the grip the virus has on global economies, today’s bullish sentiment comes on the back of some more hopeful news from Gilead Science’s COVID-19 antiviral treatment. The remdesivir drug has produced some mixed results over April, but the latest trial showed a quicker recovery time for coronavirus patients treated with the product.

A strong performance on Wall Street overnight set the ASX up further for success. Our benchmark ASX 200 index tacked on a healthy 2.39 per cent, or 129 points, today, to close a 5522.40 — its highest point in six weeks.

Another double-digit bump in the price of oil sent energy stocks soaring once more. Today, the energy sector gained 8.16 per cent. This means since April 1, the sector has recovered 16.2 per cent of its March losses.

Today, WorleyParsons was again the pick of the litter as it gained 17.34 per cent. Nevertheless, it was healthy gains all round as Woodside added on 6.9 per cent, Santos gained 9.29 per cent, and Oil Search climbed 10.51 per cent.

The technology sector, which has taken a back seat to staples and health care recently, once more took to the spotlight today. Afterpay spearheaded a strong day for our tech darlings with a 10.83 per cent gain. Meanwhile, Computershare gained 7.22 per cent, WiseTech 5.75 per cent, and Altium 2.37 per cent. Xero almost missed out but still managed to creep higher by 0.68 per cent.

Speaking of health care, it seems as hopes for an overseas treatment rise, faith in our own biotechs falls. CSL declined 1.95 per cent today. Meanwhile, hearing aid specialist Cochlear rebound 0.96 per cent after yesterday’s decline.

As for our heavyweight sectors, finance stocks shook off a week of bleak economic reports, slashed earnings, and suspended dividends to push the ASX higher.

Despite its poor start to the week, NAB led the charge today and added on 4.11 per cent. Westpac was close behind with a 3.76 per cent rise. Commonwealth Bank gained 2.65 per cent, while ANZ brought up the rear and gained 1.44 per cent. Investment banking giant Macquarie gained 2.56 per cent.

The materials sector added its weight to the daily incline as our big iron ore producers each enjoyed a green close. BHP gained 3.95 per cent, Fortescue gained 1.87 per cent, and Rio Tinto gained 2.34 per cent.

Of course, as has become the trend for our “safe haven” stocks, gold producers missed out today. While Newcrest is in a trading halt, Northern Star lost 1.54 per cent. Evolution lost 2.48 per cent, and Saracen Mineral Holdings lost 3.56 per cent.

It was a happy day over east, with all major Asian indexes sitting green. When the ASX closed for the last time this April, the Asia Dow was 1.82 per cent higher, Japan’s Nikkei 225 2.63 per cent higher, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.28 per cent higher.

The Australian dollar is slightly higher again today, buying 65.65 US cents, 52.6 pence, and 69.94 Japanese Yen.

Today’s ups and downs

Construction company Decmil Group (ASX:DCG) locked in two new contracts today worth $36 million. The new money is a bit of good news for shareholders disheartened by the company’s recent New Zealand prison drama. The contracts are made up of a $25 million deal for the Perth Metronet Bayswater Station upgrade and an $11.5 million deal with Main Roads Queensland to construct the Bruce Highway. Decmil shares gained 66.67 per cent today to close worth 22.5 cents each.

Embattled fintech company iSignthis (ASX:ISX) has lost a recent court dispute with the share market operator, ASX Limited. The legal scuffle began in December over the continued suspension of ISX shares. Today’s judgement denied ISX an interlocutory injunction for the Federal Court to suppress an ASX Statement of Reasons. The litigation continues between the two companies, but the Court ruled in favour of ASX today. Shares in ISX were locked up in October 2019 at $1.07 each. They have not traded since then.

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