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Traders were in high spirits in the lead up to the Easter long weekend, taking the ASX back to levels not seen for almost a month.

Australian investors don’t seem concerned about four days off from trading, despite a Friday sell-off becoming a trend in the past two weeks. Optimistic talk from President Donald Trump combined with a flattening infection curve in Australia seems to have calmed investors’ nerves before the long weekend.

There was no rollercoaster on our benchmark ASX 200 index this time ’round, with the index opening strong and closing stronger. When the closing bell rang for the final trades before next Tuesday, the index was 3.46 per cent higher at 5387.30 points.

It was a team effort across all 11 sectors today, with the difference between our best performers marginal.

Big banks led the finance sector to a healthy win with ANZ the pick of the litter as it gained 6.57 per cent. NAB gained 4.76 per cent, Westpac 4.66 per cent, and Commonwealth Bank 3.26 per cent. Investment Banking big-cap Macquarie Group gained 7.12 per cent.

The market was pushed higher by a 4. per cent increase in the recently-established real estate sector. In an era of low interest rates and closed shopping centres, real estate stocks have typically been having a hard time. Today, however, Scentre Group gained 10.64 per cent, Mirvac Group 3.60 per cent, and Vicinity Centres 7.63 per cent.

Goodman Group tacked on 7.03 per cent.

Health care stocks were mostly green, barring a 3.25 per cent decline from Fisher and Paykel. Nevertheless, the loss was offset by CSL’s 5.47 per cent gain, Ramsay’s 4.22 per cent gain, and Cochlear’s 3.6 per cent gain.

As for the heavyweight materials sector, a sudden afternoon reversal saw muted gains across our big player. BHP, Rio Tinto, and Newcrest each gained between 0.12 and 0.57 per cent. Fortescue gained 0.80 per cent, and South32 flexed a 4.64 per cent increase.

Interestingly, defensive supermarkets pulled the consumer staples sector almost-red. Though typically weathering the COVID-19 storm like a champion, Coles slipper 1.12 per cent today. Woolworths almost missed out until a last-minute turnaround saw the supermarket giant close 0.34 per cent higher.

Meanwhile, Asian markets were joining in the happy day — well, all except Japan, that is. When the ASX closed for the long weekend, the Nikkei 225 was 0.34 per cent lower. The Asia Dow, however, was up by 0.34 per cent, the Hang Seng up by 0.68 per cent, and the Shanghai Composite up by 0.49 per cent.

The Australian dollar is slightly weaker today, currently buying 62.17 US cents, 50.25 pence, and 11.33 South African Rand.

Today’s ups and downs

Cancer treatment specialist Sienna Cancer Diagnostics (ASX:SDX) enjoyed another happy day after entering into a merger with Bard1 Life Sciences (ASX:BD1). Sienna said the combined entity will keep building a deep pipeline of cancer diagnostics tech but with combined resources and distribution networks. Shares in Sienna doubled in value today, bring their total uptake since the news dropped yesterday to 180 per cent. Shares were worth 5.6 cents when the ASX closed.

As for today’s biggest losers, it seems the heaviest losses on the ASX today were the result of some re-jigged portfolios rather than dire company news. Though there’s no clear reason for the losses, Navigator Global Investments (ASX:NGI) declined 23.53 per cent and G Medical Innovations (ASX:GMV) 22.22 per cent.

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