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The share market rose for the first time in three sessions, trimming a losing week as the heavyweight banks and miners advanced.

The S&P/ASX 200 gained 37 points or 0.5 per cent by mid-session.

The rally cut the index’s deficit for the week to around 57 points. The ASX chased Wall Street lower on Monday amid an uptick in global rate worries, then faded again on Wednesday as the NSW Covid cluster expanded swiftly.

What’s driving the market

Positive overnight leads and signs the NSW government views a state-wide lockdown as a last resort helped bring buyers back to market. The S&P 500 climbed 0.58 per cent to a record finish overnight after the White House declared a trimmed-back infrastructure package had bipartisan support.

“US President Biden and a group of bipartisan Senators have shaken hands on an infrastructure  package touted to be worth $1tn in total over 8 years… It appears though that Democrat Senators are tying their approval to the Biden administration’s separate (now $1.8tn) American Families Plan being approved via the reconciliation process, i.e. without the need for Republican support. The latter is where proposed corporate and other high income earner tax rises are now embedded,” NAB Head of FX Strategy Ray Attrill said.

“The Infrastructure deal news helped US recover from an intra-dip after opening smartly higher, such both the S&P500 and NASDAQ have posted new record closing highs.”

Travel stocks shrugged off news off a limited lockdown in Sydney. New South Wales announced a week-long lockdown in four eastern Sydney local government areas after the state recorded 22 new cases since yesterday’s update. The lockdown will apply from midnight tonight for people who live or work in the City of Sydney, Woollahra, Waverley and Randwick.

“As the new variant has a reputation for causing large-scale hospitalisations, health experts are calling for stringent lockdown restrictions for a few days, even with a very slow increase in numbers,” Kalkine Group CEO Kunal Sawhney said.  

“While the NSW government claims that current restrictions are enough to combat the new cases in the nation, coming days will be critical to control the spread of virus clusters.”

Corporate Travel Management climbed 2.81 per cent, Flight Centre 0.96 per cent, Qantas 1.4 per cent and Sydney Airport 0.95 per cent.

Going up

The ASX’s twin 800-pound gorillas, the materials and financial sectors, both fired up this morning. Macquarie Group climbed 1.63 per cent to a six-week high. CBA gained 0.52 per cent, ANZ 1.03 per cent, NAB 0.61 per cent and Westpac 0.39 per cent.

Newcrest shrugged off an overnight reversal in gold, rising 1.52 per cent. BHP put on 0.65 per cent, Rio Tinto 0.74 per cent and Fortescue Metals 0.57 per cent.

Endeavour Group climbed 6.23 per cent on its second day on the boards. The drinks business which owns the Dan Murphy’s and BWS brands, as well as hundreds of pubs and pokie machines, was spun out of Woolworths yesterday. Woolworths shares eased 2.83 per cent.

Flight Centre rose for the first time in four sessions after unveiling a program to retain sales and support staff during the challenging Covid recovery. Staff will be incentivised through share rights. The program was expected to cost around $30 million.

Media group Southern Cross jumped 4.77 per cent on news of a deal to broadcast Network 10’s channels in regional Queensland, southern NSW and regional Victoria for two years from July 1.

Going down

CSL has been one of the biggest drags on the index this week, falling another 1.39 per cent this session towards a fifth straight loss. Brokers have downgraded their ratings on the health giant since it reached a seven-month peak last week.

Wesfarmers shed 0.52 per cent, Woodside 0.27 per cent and Coles 0.12 per cent.  

Pilbara Minerals, one of the week’s standouts, eased 0.16 per cent from record levels after announcing plans to restart its Ngungaju plant in the December quarter. The company also announced it expected to achieve record spodumene concentrate shipments this quarter.  

Coal miner New Hope shed 6.79 per cent after raising $200 million through a convertible note offering. The notes, which mature in July 2026, have a conversion price of $2.10, a 25 per cent premium to the reference share price.

BNPL players mostly took a breather at the end of a strong week. Afterpay was flat. Z1P Co dipped 0.94 per cent. Sezzle climbed 2.13 per cent.

“The shares of BNPL juggernaut Afterpay Limited have demonstrated extraordinary signs of strength this week, launching from AU$113.89 on Monday to over AU$130 at present,” Kalkine’s Mr Sawhney said.

“Afterpay has been leveraging the benefits of a marked shift in consumer behaviour towards online shopping, digital banking, and no-touch payments during the pandemic. The recent expansion of its BNPL service to some of the largest online brands in the US seems to have given its share price an additional shot in the arm.  

“BNPL players like Zip Co Ltd and Sezzle have also staged a strong comeback this week, witnessing substantial share price gains.”  

Other markets

US futures rallied with Asian markets. S&P 500 futures firmed six points or 0.13 per cent. The Asia Dow put on 0.52 per cent, China’s Shanghai Composite 0.43 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.74 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei 0.73 per cent.

Gold rebounded $2 or 0.11 per cent to US$1,778.70 an ounce. Brent crude advanced seven cents or 0.09 per cent to US$74.88 a barrel.

The dollar rose 0.11 per cent to 75.9 US cents.

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