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Aussie shares edged higher for the third session in a row as all eyes are turned to the historic $2 trillion US stimulus package.

After another strong performance on Wall Street overnight, Australian stocks opened with a bang today. Come lunchtime, however, gains were somewhat muted as the Trump administration’s $2 trillion stimulus package to fight the coronavirus-ravaged economy hit a small snag.

However, in a true display of the influence the States has on the rest of the world, the ASX saw a sudden afternoon rally when the stimulus bill was officially passed by the Senate.

When the closing bell sounded today, our benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was 2.3 per cent higher at a psychologically-significant 5113.30 points.

Despite another day of bleak retail reports of store closures, job losses, and scrapped dividends, all sectors of the ASX closed green.

The technology sector was the pick of the litter today. Afterpay continues to overexaggerate every gain or loss across the wider market, today surging ahead another 29.4 per cent. Since Monday, Afterpay’s shares have more than doubled their value.

Meanwhile, Xero gained 3.72 per cent and WiseTech 10.31 per cent. Computershare couldn’t hold on and fell a slight 0.22 per cent.

Next in line for the day of strong gains was our health care sector, which has remained mostly sturdy in the face of COVID-19. Ramsay Healthcare led the charge with an impressive 15.34 per cent incline, while CSL gained 6.2 per cent and Cochlear 8.43 per cent.

Energy stocks continued a much-needed rebound as the sector now sits roughly 14 per cent up from Monday’s record low. Woodside gained 3.87 per cent, Santos 3.27 per cent, and Origin Energy 3.49 per cent.

Nevertheless, the two most heavily-weighted sectors on the ASX were overshadowed by the wider market today.

Our banking stocks continued their rebound from Monday’s multi-year lows, but today’s gains were somewhat-muted. Westpac gained 1.07 per cent. NAB 2.22 per cent and ANZ 0.78 per cent. Commonwealth Bank, however, lost 0.96 per cent.

Meanwhile, gains from Rio Tinto and Fortescue kept the materials sector afloat. While Fortescue put on 2.94 per cent and Rio 5.14 per cent, BHP lost 2.01 per cent. Gold miner Northern Star Resources was a stain on the sector, declining 15.04 per cent after withdrawing its production guidance.

Asian markets, however, could not keep their rebound up. When the ASX closed, the Asia Dow was 0.21 per cent lower and the Nikkei 225 3.69 per cent lower. The Hang Seng sat 0.22 per cent red.

As for our local currency, the Aussie dollar slumped again today. Currently, one dollar buys 59.31 US cents, 50.04 pence, and 10.30 South African Rand.

Today’s ups and downs

Wagering technology company BetMakers (ASX:BET) is claiming to be an unlikely winner from the COVID-19 crisis. The company operates in racing data and analytics for bookmakers. Given racing is one of the only sports not cancelled under recent government regulations, eager punters have nowhere else to bet their cash. As such, BetMakers has seen a surge in demand from bookies and other betting institutions for its services. Shares in the company gained 13.64 per cent ahead today to close worth 10 cents each.

On the other hand, sleep apnoea specialist Somnomed (ASX:SOM) came crashing out of a trading halt today. The company reported yesterday sales for its SomnoDent obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) treatment device have stalled as dentist offices around the world close temporarily. Further, the company is tapping investors for $15.5 million through a heavily-discounted one-for-3.24 entitlement offer. Shareholders can buy new shares at just 80 cents each — a 60 per cent discount to their previous closing price. Today, shares declined 37.5 per cent to a six-year-low of $1.25 each.

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