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The share market took investors on a wild ride to nowhere, touching a five-week low before winding up where it began.  

The S&P/ASX 200 rollercoaster climbed as high as 6757 and dipped as low as 6649 before finishing dead flat at 6714.  

What moved the market

A disappointing week for Australian investors has seen the local market repeatedly struggle to follow positive leads from the US. The ASX 200 edged higher on Monday and Tuesday, slumped yesterday and oscillated wildly today. Ultimately, gains in industrials, travel companies and some of the miners proved enough this session to cancel out weakness in banks, BHP and tech companies.

Travel and tourism stocks provided much of the excitement after the federal government announced a $1.2 billion stimulus package to revitalise the travel industry. The scheme includes a 50 per cent discount on air tickets to 13 destinations that depend heavily on international tourism.

Travel agents Flight Centre and Webjet led the charge, surging 9.2 and 3.8 per cent, respectively. Helloworld Travel gained 4.8 per cent. Qantas added 2.5 per cent and Sydney Airport 2.2 per cent.

The ASX has been unable to take a trick this week. Iron ore prices dived on Tuesday. A decline in bond yields has weighed on bank stocks, while providing only fleeting relief to the tech sector. Weakness in Chinese markets may be dampening overseas interest in the wider region.

Overnight, the Dow notched a third straight record high, supported by a drop in bond yields and the prospect of an adrenalin shot from President Joe Biden’s US$1.9 trillion stimulus package. The blue-chip average tacked on 1.46 per cent.

“US equities rose again overnight as a calmer session in bonds continued to lead the way,” Axi’s Chief Global Market Strategist Stephen Innes said.  “While rates are only down a touch, it’s the fact that they have stopped charging ferociously higher, which seems to have been enough to calm frayed nerves, helped along with the US Congress passing the stimulus bill designed to alleviate poverty in the US.”

Winners’ circle

Gold miners rose for a second day after the yellow metal recorded back-to-back gains for the first time in more than two weeks. Regis Resources tacked on 3.6 per cent, Northern Star 2.1 per cent and Newcrest 2 per cent.

Poke-maker Aristocrat Leisure has been on a tear, rising more than 10 per cent in two weeks as vaccination programs help reopen the global economy. Shares in the company climbed 2.5 per cent.

Bond surrogates attracted selective buying as yields in both Australia and the US declined. The Australian ten-year yield was lately down 4.5 basis points to 1.675 per cent. Transurban put on 1.2 per cent, Brambles 0.1 per cent, Wesfarmers 0.5 per cent and CSL 0.7 per cent.

The materials sector faded to its weakest level in more than a month before Fortescue Metals and Rio Tinto led a rebound. Fortescue bounced 2.2 per cent and Rio 1.1 per cent and. BHP sank 1.7 per cent

Doghouse

Rising yields have been a tailwind for lenders, lifting the big four high-street banks to 52-week highs. With yields now in retreat, ANZ fell 1 per cent, NAB 0.5 per cent, CBA 0.3 per cent and Westpac 0.3 per cent.

Other heavyweight drags included Macquarie Group -1.1 per cent, Goodman Group -1.1 per cent, Woodside -0.8 per cent, Telstra -0.3 per cent and Woolworths -0.3 per cent.

Yesterday’s relief rally in the battered tech sector proved fleeting. Afterpay slumped 3.7 per cent, Nearmap 1.4 per cent and NextDC 1.6 per cent.

Other markets

Asian markets gathered momentum in afternoon trade. The Asia Dow rose 0.53 per cent. China’s Shanghai Composite put on 1.78 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 1.6 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei 0.46 per cent.

US futures built steadily. S&P 500 futures added 18 points or 0.4 per cent.

Oil added to last night’s 0.6 per cent gain. Brent crude climbed 58 cents or 0.9 per cent to $US68.48 a barrel. Gold rose $7.10 or 0.4 per cent to $US1,728.90 an ounce.

The dollar climbed 0.18 per cent to 77.44 US cents.

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