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A third day of gains lifted the ASX 200 briefly above 7400 for the first time in a week and a half as investors weighed positive Covid developments overseas against record case numbers at home.

The S&P/ASX 200 traded as high as 7404 before trimming its rise to 26 points or 0.35 per cent at 7390.

Gains in gold miners, REITs and banks helped keep the market above-water following a negative morning for iron ore miners. Graphite miner Syrah Resources was a standout after signing an offtake agreement with Elon Musk’s Tesla.

What’s driving the market

US and European markets rose overnight as US economic data and positive Covid developments helped settle market nerves. A South African study suggested omicron symptoms were milder than those of delta and other previous strains. Case numbers in South Africa declined. The US regulator granted Pfizer emergency use authorisation for a pill for treating Covid.

“Omicron news are lifting sentiment, encouraging markets to price a less malicious outcome from the new virus wave,” NAB currency strategist Rodrigo Catril said.¬†

“Omicron is and will continue to have an impact on the global economy, but now there is prospect that its impact could be shorter and shallower. Favouring a positive outlook for 2022 with consumers and corporates well placed to support the economy next year, amid high levels of savings and employment.”

The S&P 500 climbed 1.02 per cent. The pan-European Stoxx 600 added 0.92 per cent.

Overseas news helped offset negative developments at home. New South Wales reported a record 5,715 new cases this morning. Queensland also reported a state record, with 369 new cases. Victoria passed 2,000 new cases for the first time since October.

Going up

An offtake agreement with Tesla lifted graphite miner Syrah 23.02 per cent to a near two-year high. The miner will supply the electric car maker with natural graphite Active Anode Material from its US facility. The agreement has an initial term of four years.

Beleaguered Magellan bounced 2.46 per cent as co-founder and Executive Chair Hamish Douglass reassured investors the fund manager’s future was healthy. Douglass posted a video interview addressing the resignation of CEO Dr Brett Cairns and the loss of a key mandate.   

The best of the market heavyweights were gold miner Newcrest +1.11 per cent, industrial property firm Goodman Group +0.9 per cent and investment bank Macquarie Group +0.72 per cent. CBA gained 0.42 per cent, Wesfarmers 0.38 per cent and CSL 0.41 per cent.

Gold miners rallied after the yellow metal clambered back above US$1,800 an ounce. Evolution Mining added 3.39 per cent, Regis Resources 4.59 per cent and Perseus 2.52 per cent.

Casino group SkyCity Entertainment firmed 1.23 per cent after investing $39.3 million in a strategic partner’s acquisition of a European business-to-business online sports provider.

Going down

Bega Cheese dived 13.17 per cent after warning of cost pressures and competition for milk supply. Despite the headwinds, the dairy producer expects earnings to improve this financial year to $195-$215 million from $142 million in FY21.

“Farm milk supply across the Australian dairy industry remains flat to declining with strong competition for supply continuing. The company expects upward pressure on farm gate milk prices to remain for the balance of the year,” the firm told the ASX.

WiseTech backed down 2.47 per cent from an all-time high on news founder and CEO Richard White will sell 4.3 million shares. The sell-down through Macquarie Bank will start early next year and take around six months. White will retain a 42 per cent interest in the software maker.

Booktopia dropped 13.08 per cent to a record low on news first-half earnings will be impacted by a range of additional costs. The company incurred extra labour costs during the Sydney lockdown and added a second distribution facility.

Other markets

Most Asian markets logged modest gains. The Asia Dow put on 0.64 per cent, China’s Shanghai Composite 0.16 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei 0.35 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 0.07 per cent.

US futures were tentatively positive. S&P 500 futures inched up two points or 0.04 per cent.

The bull run in oil continued. Brent crude firmed 24 US cents or 0.32 per cent to US$75.52 a barrel after rising 1.8 per cent overnight.

Gold climbed US$3.20 or 0.18 per cent to US$1,805.40 an ounce.

The dollar trimmed overnight gains, lately down 0.07 per cent to 72.07 US cents.

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