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ASX Today: Trump tariff news not enough to slow Aussie stocks

As global markets move cautiously around the spreading Wuhan coronavirus, the ASX managed to recoup a small portion of yesterday's losses with some tepid gains.

The ASX 200 couldn't get back Wednesday's all-time highs but managed to add on 2.5 points and close at 7090.50 points — still in record territory with the second-highest close of all time. Similarly, the All Ords tacked on four points to close at 7203.20 points.

The Aussie stock market had mostly-greens sectors across the board, but materials weighed down any major gains. Overnight declines in iron ore prices set our big producers up for a slow day, and by market close BHP and Rio Tinto had declined 1.53 per cent and 2.83 per cent, respectively.

Even Fortescue Metals, who has started making a habit of outperforming resource stocks, declined 0.40 per cent to $12.48 per share.

Gains across the finance sector offset the miners' losses. Commonwealth Bank enjoyed its highest share price since 2017 and closed 0.50 per cent up. Westpac and ANZ performed slightly better with 0.52 and 0.58 respective gains, while NAB brought in the rear and gained 0.43 per cent.

Health care, however, was the best performing sector of the day with a 0.70 per cent increase. While coronavirus fears hinder markets across the globe, health care stocks are enjoying the spotlight as punters search for the company most likely to come up with a cure.

Biotech giant CSL, which specialises in a variety of vaccines and anti-viral solutions, reached a new record close once again. The company gained 1.14 per cent to see shares close at a healthy $310.70 each.

Biotron was the talk of the town on Wednesday after eagle-eyed investors noticed a US patent application highlighting a potential treatment for the coronavirus. The company has said nothing to the ASX regarding the virus, but shareholders are keeping their eyes peeled for any new developments. Today, Biotron shares are up 1.45 per cent.

Retail stocks were somewhat mixed, bringing the consumer sectors to muted gains.

Supermarket giant Woolworths slipped in late-afternoon trade to close 0.24 per cent down, while Coles escaped red but closed grey. Meanwhile, retail conglomerate Wesfarmers fought off sector losses and gained 0.88 per cent.

Looking around the globe, European stocks were painted red. London's Footsie lost 0.85 per cent, Frankfurt's DAX 0.94 per cent, and France's CAC 40 0.65 per cent.

Meanwhile, Asian stocks saw some welcome green after the World Health Organisation decided not to declare the coronavirus outbreak a global emergency just yet. When the Aussie market closed, the Asia Dow and Japan's Nikkei 225 were both up 0.18 per cent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was 0.15 per cent green.

In the world of commodities, Brent crude finally rose after three straight session losses, currently up 0.39 per cent. Gold is down 0.35 per cent, while iron ore has taken a 1.25 per cent hit.

As for the Aussie dollar, things have remained mostly flat and one dollar currently buys 68.47 US cents, 52.19 pence, and 74.99 Japanese Yen.

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