ASX Today: Aussie shares break out of a rocky morning into record territory

The Aussie share market was the reverse image of yesterday's movements as an afternoon rally brought the ASX to the tip of its record close from January.

Wall Street and European markets were plastered red overnight as renewed coronavirus fears made punters nervous, setting the ASX up for a somewhat grim day. However, after a rocky morning, lunchtime saw a change in tune.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index started a sudden rally in late afternoon trade. The index closed for the weekend 0.38 per cent up just two points shy of its record at 7130.20 points.

The market was carried heavily by the finance sector today as our big four banks led the charge. NAB was today's best performer, gaining 3.25 per cent, followed by Commonwealth's 2.55 per cent incline. Westpac gained 1.14 per cent and ANZ 0.68 per cent.

Even financial services specialist AMP, who suffered yesterday on the back of a sour annual report, took back some lost ground today as it gained 0.55 per cent. The rise came after several analyst upgrades.

Energy and resource stocks both lost out today as commodity prices took another dip.

Our biggest iron ore producer BHP managed to stay steady and tack on 0.29. Rio Tinto, on the other hand, declined right before market close and lost 0.37 per cent. Fortescue lost 0.45 per cent drop and Newcrest 3.62 per cent, resulting in the materials sector slipping 0.3 per cent.

Meanwhile, Woodside lost 2.7 per cent, Santos 0.49 per cent, and Origin Energy 1.27 per cent. Oil Search's 0.78 per cent gain was not enough to offset the losses, and the energy sector closed 1.2 per cent down for the weekend.

The technology sector has been particularly volatile in the year of global uncertainty. Today, it eased back another 0.47 per cent. Xero lost 0.47 per cent and Afterpay gained 0.13 per cent, while Computershare and Wisetech declined 0.63 per cent and 0.07 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, health care stocks followed overall market trends and were the inverse picture of yesterday. Biotech giant CSL gained a muted 0.06 per cent, but the sector was supported by healthy gains from other big players.

Ramsay gained 0.42 per cent, Sonic 0.38 per cent, and Cochlear 2.10 per cent.

To the east, Asian markets were mostly green when the ASX closed. The Asia Dow gained 0.08 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng 0.6 per cent, and China's Shanghai Composite 0.42 per cent. Only Japan's Nikkei 225 missed out, losing 0.65 per cent over the course of the day.

The Australian dollar saw some muted gains today. Currently, one dollar buys 67.19 US cents, 51.51 pence, and 4.69 Chinese Yuan.

Today's ups and downs

Sleep apnoea treatment company Oventus (ASX:OVN) is among the best performers of the day for the second session in a row with back-to-back strong announcements. The company told shareholders yesterday it has launched its business model in three new US sites, and today shared that its O2 Vent device had been approved for reimbursement through the US Medicare program. The company has gained 40 per cent since market close on Wednesday afternoon, currently trading shares for 56 cents each.

Meanwhile, small-cap marketing specialist engage:BDR (EN1) dipped again today despite an overwhelmingly confident announcement from management. Yesterday, the company announced some planned hefty dilution by issuing new shares to directors based on performance targets. Today, the company said fresh contracts will bring about substantial new revenue, but didn't specify by exactly how much revenues would rise. The lack of figures left investors cautious and EN1 shares have dipped 5.26 per cent since Wednesday afternoon.

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