The Australian stock market staged a remarkable recovery as news of a new US$3 trillion coronavirus relief package lightened the outlook on US futures.
Our benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index slumped as low as 1.77 per cent in the early hours of trade and by lunchtime looked likely to stay red for the rest of the day. However, the new massive US stimulus package sparked a last-minute surge and the index closed 0.35 per cent higher at 5421.90 points.
Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi unveiled the stimulus, known as the “Heroes Act”, that will see another US$1200 put in the pockets of US citizens, with a heightened limit of US$6000 per household. US$1 trillion will be used to aid states, cities, and local governments, with $175 billion set aside to help with rent and mortgage payments.
The expensive aid will be voted on this coming Friday, but hopes of new money flowing through the US economy put new wind under the sails of investors down under.
The materials sector led the rebound today, with our big iron ore players at the wheel. BHP tacked on 0.94 per cent by market close, with Rio Tinto up 1.36 per cent and Fortescue a nice 3.92 per cent.
Our safe-haven gold stocks added their weight to the late-market recovery. Newcrest gained 1.41 per cent, Northern Star 1.6 per cent, and Saracen Mineral Holdings 1.53 per cent.
Similarly, our big four banks urged the financials sector onwards and helped lift the market to its green close. Commonwealth Bank led the pack and gained 1.91 per cent despite revealing a $1.5 billion COVID-19 hit and announcing the sale of its majority interest in Colonial First State (CFS).
NAB gained 0.77 per cent, Westpac gained 0.53 per cent, and ANZ gained 0.39 per cent.
Health care stocks also had a happy close, with Fisher and Paykel pick of the litter with a 2.64 per cent gain. Biotech against CSL gained 0.78 per cent and hearing aid specialist Cochlear gained 1.22 per cent.
Unfortunately, the energy sector missed out as oil prices slumped again. Woodside lost 1.63 per cent, Santos lost 1.26 per cent, and WorleyParsons lost 4.96 per cent.
It was another mixed day across the Asian markets today. When the ASX closed, the Asia Dow was 0.33 per cent higher and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.22 per cent higher. However, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index missed out on the fun as it sat 0.49 per cent lower.
Meanwhile, the Aussie dollar is marginally higher against the US dollar but lower against the Pound sterling today. One dollar currently buys 64.74 US cents, 52.66 pence, and 11.93 South African Rand.
Today’s ups and downs
Shares in sports and leisure software specialist MSL Solutions (ASX:MPW) soared today after the company revealed a strong balance sheet and consistent revenues despite the current COVID-induced sports hiatus. Shareholders seemed encouraged by the promising business update as MSL shares tacked on 51.43 per cent to close worth 5.3 cents each — their highest point since mid-March.
Meanwhile, receivable financier CML Group (ASX:CGR) lost almost half of its value today after another takeover deal fell through. ScotPac pulled out of its plan to take control of CML today, just two months after Consolidated Operations (ASX:COG) did the same thing. Shares in CML nosedived 41.58 per cent to close worth 30 cents each.