Aussie shares ignored the standard Friday rot today and kept gains healthy as US futures soared.
Ears pricked up at news of a potential COVID-19 treatment from US biotech giant Gilead Sciences. Though full results are due at the end of the month, Phase III clinical trials in a Chicago hospital allegedly saw almost all coronavirus patients treated with Gilead’s medication discharged and fully recovered within a week.
Once more proving the grip the coronavirus has on global economies, the ASX ignored bleak economic data from China and surged ahead today.
Our benchmark ASX 200 index closed back at its Tuesday recent high today, gaining 1.31 per cent to 5487.50 points. Similarly, the All Ords was up 1.41 per cent at 5544.70 points before the weekend break.
It was our industrials sector that led the charge today, with some of the biggest sufferers from the coronavirus crisis taking back some lost ground. Sydney Airport regained 8.28 per cent, Qantas gained 7.20 per cent, and Air New Zealand gained 1.56 per cent.
The consumer staples sector just missed our even as our supermarket giants joined in on the gains. Woolworths gained 0.43 per cent and Coles 0.24 per cent. Metcash, which owns IGA, closed grey.
As for our discretionary stocks, Wesfarmers gained 1.60 per cent, Tabcorp 2.76 per cent, and JB Hi-Fi 2.45 per cent.
Even energy rebounded after a fresh slump in the price of oil knocked the sector further down this week. Today, Woodside put on 0.76 per cent, Santos 0.94 per cent, Origin Energy a healthy 3.61 per cent, and Oil Search 4.18 per cent.
Taking a look at the two most heavily-weighted sectors on the ASX, materials and financials each helped keep things steady.
Only one of our big four banks closed green, however. While NAB rose 0.68 per cent increase, Commonwealth, Westpac, and ANZ each slipped between 0.12 and 0.33 per cent.
Meanwhile, our iron ore giants had a slightly better day. BHP and Rio Tinto gained 1.59 per cent and 3.34 per cent, respectively, while Fortescue Metals gained 0.53 per cent.
It was green across the Asian markets today with COVID-19 treatment hopes pushing all major eastern indexes up. When the ASX closed for the weekend, the Asia Dow was higher by 2.19 per cent, the Nikkei 225 by 3.15 per cent, and the Hang Seng by 2.16 per cent.
Even the Aussie dollar joined in on a green day. Currently, one dollar buys 63.44 US cents, 50.85 pence, and 11.89 South African Rand.
Today’s ups and downs
Online retailer Harris Technologies (ASX:HT8) comfortably topped the gainer’s charts today despite shares being relatively untouched over the last year. Punters might find no surprise in the fact that COVID-19 had something to do with the run: HT8 is the latest listed entity to start creating hygiene and safety products in light of the pandemic. The company is selling hand sanitisers and safety masks, and shares closed 200 per cent higher today at 5.7 cents each.
Interestingly, gold stocks were the one consistent stain on an otherwise stellar day. Generally seen as our “safe haven” on the market, our big gold miners missed out. Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM) declined 2.62 per cent, Northern Star Resources (ASX:NST) 1.86 per cent, and Evolution Mining (ASX:EVN) 2.67 per cent.