Aust stocks higher amid virus volatility

The Australian share market has shaken off a weak lead from Wall Street to rise early ahead of further economic support measures for businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was up 31.9 points, or 0.66 per cent at 4,874.3 at 1015 AEDT on Monday as the federal government prepares to announce the latest round of stimulus measures to stop the economic bleeding.

The All Ordinaries index was also up, rising 24.3 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 4,898.5 after the first 15 minutes of trading.

A strong start for financials and healthcare stocks offset declines across energy, materials, and industrial stocks. 

The SPI futures market had tipped modest early gains to start the week, but analysts were still braced for volatility in the wake of further social distancing measures.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday said no more than two people will be allowed to meet in public or private and older Australians should stay at home to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, meanwhile, is set to announce wage subsidies for business to help keep employees on during the coronavirus pandemic.

But he’s remaining tight-lipped on the details, despite speculation businesses will get up to $1500 a fortnight for each employee.

The third stimulus package is also expected to ease restrictions on claiming welfare benefits.

Hundreds of thousands of Australians have already lost their jobs, with vast numbers expected to follow as the expected recession bites.

Federal and state governments have also agreed to a six-month freeze on residential and commercial evictions.

Foreign investment laws have also been tightened to stop predators swooping on Australian businesses in distress.

The Australian dollar was buying 61.42 US cents at 1015 AEDT, up from 61.08 US cents as the market closed on Friday.

AAP

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