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Healthy gains all around as ASX closes strong

It's better late than never for the ASX today as the market finally joined in on the global holiday cheer.

A night of fresh records on Wall Street set the Aussie market up for success. The benchmark ASX 200 wasted no time snatching back some late December losses and gained 42.90 points. The index closed 0.64 per cent up at 6733.50 points.

The energy sector once again took the spotlight as the best performer of the day. Santos as Beach Energy showed off with gains upwards of two per cent. Woodside gained a healthy 1.13 per cent, and Origin followed suit with a 1.77 per cent gain.

Technology stocks had a happy day despite losses from two of the top three companies by market cap. Xero and Afterpay's 0.038 per cent and 1.18 per cent respective losses were offset by stock transfer company Computershare's 2.21 per cent rise. Wisetech rose 1.71 per cent, while software giant Technology One gained 2.30 per cent.

Health care was another stand-out sector today. While CSL and Cochlear are still chasing early December's all-time-highs, they still enjoyed 0.82 and 0.23 per cent gains.

In fact, all but two of the biggest market caps in the health care sector saw green today, led by Pro Medicus' 2.51 per cent rise.

The twin-pillars of the ASX, mining and banks, didn't have to work hard to keep things afloat today.

Mining stocks saw some slightly muted gains compared to the rest of the market, but still performed strongly by ordinary standards. BHP gained 0.51 per cent and Rio Tinto 0.21 per cent. However, Fortescue Metals lost 0.28 per cent.

As for our big four banks, ANZ led the charge with a 0.73 per cent rise. Westpac was right behind with a 0.70 per cent rise, while Commonwealth and NAB picked up the rear with gains of around 0.5 per cent each.

The ASX mimicked the trends of European markets today, which were all lit up bright green. The US Dow Jones gained 330 points or 1.16 per cent with Australians slept, paving the way for the German DAX, the Italian FTSE MIB, and the Spanish IBEX 35 to each gain over one per cent. London's Footsie rose 0.82 per cent.

Asian stocks, however, missed out on all the fun. When the Australian market closed, every benchmark index in Asia was red. Japan's Nikkei 225 suffered the most with a 0.76 per cent drop, while the Asia Dow lost 0.02 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng dipped 0.17 per cent.

The Aussie dollar dipped slightly today. The dollar currently picks up 69.62 US cents, 53.06 pence, and 9.86 South African Rand.

Today's ups and downs

Investors responded well to ASX 200 insurer Insurance Group Australia's (IAG) market update today. The company highlighted almost 3000 bushfire-relate claims since early September, with 1500 of those from December alone. The company said helping those affected by the country's ongoing bushfires is a top priority, and upgraded its gross reinsurance protection to $10 billion for 2020 from last year's $9 billion.

Afterpay competitor Sezzle tanked another 15.71 per cent today after it was accused of "illegal unlicenced lending" in California by the California Department of Business Oversight. As a result, a loaning licence application was denied from Sezzle. The company's shares have shaved off a third of their value since the start of January, currently worth $1.39.

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