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ASX Today: ASX caps off worst week since GFC with more losses

Bank and technology stocks spearheaded a stock market rebound ahead of this afternoon's Reserve Bank rates policy announcement.

The S&P/ASX 200 surged 93 points or 1.6 per cent to reverse most of two losing sessions and regain the 6000 level at 6019.

The market appeared to shake off the Victorian lockdown blues that yesterday dragged the benchmark index to its lowest level in a month. A record high for the Nasdaq helped supercharge our tech stocks. The IT sector soared 3.6 per cent as sector heavyweight Afterpay climbed 6.6 per cent, WiseTech 5.6 per cent, Nearmap 3.7 per cent and Appen 3.3 per cent.

The Nasdaq rose 158 points or 1.47 per cent as Microsoft confirmed its interest in buying TikTok's US operations and the sector leaders basked in the afterglow of last week's knockout quarterlies. The broader S&P 500 gained 22 points or 0.72 per cent.

The financial sector slumped to a two-month low yesterday amid fears a second shutdown in Victoria may tip many businesses into administration, triggering a wave of bad debts for the banks. The sector recouped yesterday's loss as Macquarie Group put on 2.2 per cent, ANZ 2.2 per cent, Westpac 2.1 per cent, CBA 2.3 per cent and NAB 1.5 per cent.

Iron ore miner Fortescue hit a new peak, gaining 1.6 per cent after the price of ore climbed to its strongest level in a year. BHP added 1.3 per cent and Rio Tinto 1.9 per cent. Iron ore surged 4.4 per cent yesterday following strong Chinese manufacturing data.

While the morning's best performers were in technology, casinos and other gambling businesses also marched higher. Star Entertainment Group bounced 5.6 per cent from its lowest close since April. Crown Resorts gained 4.9 per cent, Aristocrat Leisure 4 per cent, Tabcorp 3.6 per cent and Skycity Entertainment 0.7 per cent.

All 11 sectors rallied. The industrials and utilities sectors brought up the rear with gains of 0.9 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively. Other notable gains included shopping centre operator Scentre Group +3 per cent, insurer Suncorp + 3.3 per cent, Telstra +2.4 per cent and health giant CSL +1.5 per cent.

Just 22 out of 200 companies on the index missed the upswing, most of them gold miners. Shopping centre operator Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield fell 3.3 per cent, Cochlear 0.6 per cent, funeral home operator InvoCare 0.5 per cent and Spark Infrastructure 0.4 per cent.

Retail turnover increased a seasonally-adjusted 2.7 per cent in June, according to ABS data, slightly ahead of expectations.

"The June month saw the continued recovery of industries impacted by trading restrictions in April and early May," Ben James, Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys, said. "There were large month-on-month rises in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (27.9 per cent), and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (20.5 per cent)."  

Most Asian markets advanced. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.5 per cent and Japan's Nikkei 1.4 per cent. China's Shanghai Composite dipped 0.2 per cent. S&P 500 index futures were recently ahead one point or less than 0.1 per cent.

Oil gave back around half of its overnight gains. Brent crude eased 34 cents or 0.8 per cent to $US43.80 a barrel. Gold tacked on $7.10 or 0.4 per cent to $US1,993.40 an ounce.

The dollar edged up 0.06 per cent to 71.27 US cents ahead of a 2.30 pm EST policy update from the Reserve Bank. While the central bank is expected to leave the cash rate at a record low, speculation circled around the possibility the bank might flag fresh measures to support the economy after Victoria fell back into lockdown.

Hot today: Hope burned anew for traders caught out by the dramatic collapse in the share price of Alterity Therapeutics (ASX:ATH) since the biotech's extraordinary 2,370 per cent surge on July 1. While today's price was a far cry from that day's peak of 42 cents, investors were cheered by a 58.8 per cent rise to 5.4 cents on news of progress for Alterity's lead drug candidate for treating MSA, a Parkinsonian disorder. The company announced new clinical data on the drug had been selected for presentation at two prestigious virtual conferences this year.   


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