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Healthy gains all around as ASX closes strong

After Wall Street retreated from Friday's record highs, the ASX followed suit to start the week at a loss.

Wall Street's decline came on the back of a US jobs report for December 2019. Though unemployment in the US is staying at a four-decade low of 3.5 per cent, soft data from nonfarm payrolls pulled stocks in the States down.

The ASX 200 eased from its new record close on Friday afternoon. The benchmark local index declined 0.37 per cent, or 25.30 points, to close at 6903.70 points.

The health care sector was Friday's best performer, but today dragged things down with the biggest sector loss. CSL dipped 1.60 per cent after closing with shares just 70 cents shy of $300 each before the weekend. Today, shares closed worth $294.50.

Cochlear had a bumpy day but closed 0.23 per cent down, while health care providers Ramsay, Sonic, and Fisher and Paykel dipped 0.16 per cent, 0.066 per cent, and 1.10 per cent respectively.

Energy stocks declined today as oil prices took a dip. Woodside lost 1.20 per cent, Santos 0.56 per cent, Origin 1.72 per cent, and Oil Search 1.89 per cent.

The twin pillars of the Aussie market, mining and finance, each dipped into the red today.

Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals fought off the losses to rise 0.84 per cent, but our other main players in the materials sector declined. BHP lost 0.93 per cent and Rio Tinto lost 0.34 per cent.

As for our big four banks, NAB was the best performer and managed to close grey. Commonwealth declined a slight 0.024 per cent, Westpac 0.24 per cent, and ANZ was the weakest stock with a 0.44 per cent drop.

Only the technology sector saw green at market close. Though Xero and Computershare posted 0.27 per cent and 0.51 per cent respective losses, these were offset by Afterpay's healthy 4.50 per cent gain. WiseTech pushed things higher and gained 0.45 per cent.

Looking around the globe, European markets followed US movements. London's Footsie dipped 0.14 per cent, the Frankfurt DAX 0.09 per cent, and France's CAC 40 0.09 per cent.

Asian markets, however, saw green all around. The Asia Dow was up 0.29 per cent when the Australian stock exchange closed, with Japan's Nikkei 225 up 0.47 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng up 0.82 per cent.

The Aussie dollar is stronger today, currently buying 69.15 US cents, 53.08 pence, and 9.90 South African Rand.

What's hot today and what's not today

Hot today: Afterpay rival Zip Co (ASX:Z1P) saw a healthy uptake of shares after releasing a record quarterly report. The buy now, pay later competitor brought in $38.5 million in revenue over the December 2019 quarter and now services 1.8 million customers. The quarterly growth saw Zip shares gain 3.12 per cent today, closing trading at $3.64 each.

Not today: New South Wales-based REIT company US Masters Residential Property Fund (ASX:URF) saw shares drop almost 25 per cent today after releasing a December trading update which downgrades its net asset value. The real estate company blamed a weaker New York City housing market and a falling US dollar for the asset value reduction. Shares in URF closed worth 68 cents each today.

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