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Healthy gains all around as ASX closes strong

The ASX seems to be over the shock of the US-Iran war tensions as Aussie stocks had their biggest rally of the year so far.

After Wall Street recouped yesterday's losses, the ASX 200 opened with a bang. Our benchmark index ticked over the 6800 mark for the first time December, rising consistently to close 1.35 per cent up at 6826.40 points.

Every sector saw green today, with health care stocks leading the rally. After a slow start to the year, CSL added almost $7 to its share price today with a 2.39 per cent rise. Health care providers shared the gains with Ramsay rising 1.47 per cent, Sonic 1.06 per cent, and Fisher and Paykel 1.02 per cent. Cochlear missed out, however, spending the day down until closing grey.

A sudden rebound in banking stocks helped push the ASX higher, with the 10 largest finance companies by market cap all closing green. Our big four banks had the best day of 2020 so far with Commonwealth gaining 1.79 per cent, NAB 1.43 per cent, ANZ 1.30 per cent, and Westpac 1.15 per cent.

The other heavily-weighted sector on the market, our materials sector, also had a happy day. Rio Tinto closed 0.60 per cent up and BHP following suit 0.38 per cent. Fortescue Metals and Newscrest missed out on the gains, however, with 0.74 per cent 1.94 per cent declines respectively.

Energy companies continued their strong run on the back of the recent spike in oil prices. Woodside rose 0.76 per cent, Santos 2.33 per cent, and Origin 1.28 per cent. Oil Search hit an 8-month high with a 2.35 per cent gain.

Consumer stocks saw some healthy gains despite important suppliers being ravaged by the ongoing bushfires. Woolworths rose 1.74 per cent, Coles 1.47 per cent, and Treasury Wine Estates a healthy 2.66 per cent.

Tech stocks joined in on the gains with Xero gaining 1.58 per cent, Afterpay 1.40 per cent, and WiseTech 0.84 per cent.

Looking around the globe, European markets were plastered with red. London's Footsie 100 dipped 0.62 per cent, with the Frankfurt DAX following suit and losing 0.7 per cent.

Asian markets, however, mimicked the ASX gains. The Asia Dow rose 0.92 per cent, Japan's Nikkei 225 1.45 per cent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng 0.48 per cent.

As for currencies, the Aussie dollar currently buys 69.30 US cents, 52.61 pence, and 61.91 euros.

Today's ups and downs

Buy now, pay later competitor Sezzle regained its 2020 losses after stemming fears of a rejected California lending licence. In late December, the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) rejected Sezzle' licence application on the basis that it had been performing illegal lending activities in the state. The news triggered a mass sell-off of Sezzle shares, which dipped almost 35 per cent from the end of December to yesterday. After some discussions with the department, however, Sezzle said today it is confident it is on the path to resolution and its application will be approved soon. The fintech companies shares gained 41.91 per cent today to close at $1.93.

Agriculture giant Elders continued its decline today as bushfires continue to throw doubt on the company's operations over east. The company's shares have dropped 4.78 per cent since Friday's close and currently sell for $6.17 each.

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