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Energy producers, retailers and miners fired the ASX to its strongest close in a week and a half following record April retail sales and strong gains on Wall Street.

The S&P/ASX 200 climbed 77 points or 1.08 per cent. The advance secured a second straight weekly advance as fears of a global slowdown temporarily subsided.

Wall Street’s main indices surged overnight when upbeat retail earnings calmed concerns about the health of the US consumer. Here, strong April sales data suggested recent worries about the retail sector were overblown.

Energy and mining stocks also booked solid gains as crude oil and iron ore rebounded.

What moved the market

A choppy week ended on a high note as buyers returned after yesterday’s ‘China slowdown’ scare. The ASX 200 put on 37 points or 0.5 per cent across a week when the index moved in a different direction each session.

Retailers rebounded after sales figures showed retail trade reached a record $33.9 billion last month. Total sales increased by 0.9 per cent from the month before, continuing this year’s steady improvement.

“The Aussie consumer remains in fine voice,” CommSec reported. “People are getting out and about again, especially frequenting cafes and restaurants. And because more people are out and about they are also taking the opportunity to update their wardrobes.

“In part, higher prices would be pushing sales higher while the volume of sales would be supported by a strong job market and rising wages.”

The report helped propel the dollar to its highest in three weeks. The Aussie was lately up 0.47 per cent at 71.32 US cents.

Upbeat trading updates from US retailers helped drive Wall Street’s main indices closer to ending their worst run of weekly losses in decades. The Dow climbed 1.61 per cent, extending its gain for the week to 4.4 per cent.

The advance placed the blue-chip average on the verge of breaking an eight-week losing streak, its longest since the Great Depression. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite moved towards breaking seven-week losing runs with gains of 1.99 and 2.68 per cent, respectively.

Winners’ circle

Retailers pared a losing week. Conglomerate Wesfarmers rallied 1.63 per cent. Online clothing store City Chic Collective firmed 7.96 per cent.

JB Hi-Fi gained 2.5 per cent. Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments added 1.78 per cent and Harvey Norman 1.39 per cent.

The renamed Woodside Energy was the best of the heavyweights, rising 3.57 per cent. Most of the bulk metal majors rose as iron ore prices rebounded in China. Rio Tinto tacked on 2.36 per cent and BHP 2.46 per cent. Fortescue Metals eased 1.66 per cent.

Lithium miners provided some of the day’s best performers. Liontown Resources improved 3.12 per cent, Pilbara Minerals 3.56 per cent and Allkem 3.85 per cent.

Tech stocks rallied for a second session after the Nasdaq outperformed overnight. The sector slumped to a two-year low earlier this month amid concerns about future earnings as the cost of borrowing rises.

“The S&P ASX All Technology index has witnessed a significant fall in the last six months, which has brought tech stocks to attractive valuations,” Kunal Sawhney, chief executive of research group Kalkine, said.

“Now with Nasdaq stocks witnessing some rebound over the last two days, investors are probably feeling confident that there may not be a further selloff in the Australian tech stocks, hence the buying.”

Afterpay owner Block firmed 5.89 per cent, EML Payments 3.51 per cent and Technology One 3.47 per cent.

Infomedia climbed 6.5 per cent to $1.72 after another suitor joined the bidding war for the Australian data analytics provider. US tech investment firm Battery Ventures offered $1.75 per share, topping a previous proposal from TA Associates and Viburnum Fund.  

Doghouse

Appen went from rooster to feather duster, plunging 20.92 per cent after a Canadian suitor walked away and the tech darling revealed it was relying on a strong second half to hit its revenue targets. Telus International broke off takeover negotiations last night after news of negotiations leaked.

Appen’s shares slumped briefly below pre-bid prices as the company faced shareholders at today’s AGM. CEO Mark Brayan said year-to-date revenue was lower than the prior corresponding period, but growth in the order book indicated the second half would improve.

Traditional defensives met mild selling pressure as traders rotated into pockets of the market with stronger recovery prospects. Chorus dipped 2.54 per cent, St Barbara 2.46 per cent and Centuria Capital 1.34 per cent.

CSR dropped 4.69 per cent as its shares traded ex-dividend.

Other markets

Hong Kong shares spearheaded a strong session on Asian markets following a revenue rise at ecommerce giant Alibaba. The Hang Seng surged 2.02 per cent. The Asia Dow added 1.4 per cent, China’s Shanghai Composite 0.09 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei 0.55 per cent.

US futures retreated as after-hours updates from Gap and Costco disappointed. S&P 500 futures dropped ten points or 0.23 per cent.

Gold added to last night’s slender gain as the US dollar fell. The yellow metal climbed US$3.40 or 0.2 per cent to US$1,851 an ounce.

Brent crude faded 11 US cents or 0.1 per cent to US$114.06 a barrel.

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