ASX jumps amid continued virus volatility

The Australian share market has opened two per cent higher as coronavirus-fuelled volatility continues.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was up 101.6 points, or 2.0 per cent, at 5,178.4 at 1030 AEDT on Wednesday, mirroring a similar surge at Tuesday’s open. 

The bourse ended up sagging throughout the previous session to close 2.02 per cent lower.  

The All Ordinaries index was also up on Wednesday, rising 101.6 points, or 2.0 per cent, to 5,210.9 after the first 30 minutes of trading.

All sectors were well in the black, with energy stocks leading the way on a 2.0 per cent oil price rise. 

Woodside Petroleum lifted 6.7 per cent to $19.43, Origin 5.94 per cent to $4.64, Oil Search 10.92 per cent to $2.64, and Santos was up 8.19 per cent to $3.70. 

Energy companies had been smashed throughout March due to the coronavirus pandemic and the eruption of an oil price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The financials, materials and healthcare companies were also strong out of the gates on Wednesday

Three of the big four banks – Commonwealth, NAB and Westpac – were up by between 0.18 per cent and 0.78 per cent.

Only ANZ lagged, down 0.12 per cent. 

Big miner BHP jumped 2.97 per cent to $29.84 and Rio Tinto shares were up 4.03 per cent to $87.98. 

Goldminers were mixed as the price of the safe-haven metal dropped overnight, with Northern Star down 1.99 per cent, but Newcrest and Evolution up by 0.61 per cent and 1.57 per cent each. 

Health benchmark CSL rose 2.55 per cent to $304.25. 

Transurban shares fell 2.99 per cent to $11.68 after the company flagged a dramatic drop in traffic on its toll roads during March. 

Supermarkets Coles and Woolworths banked gains of about 1.0 per cent each and Telstra rose 2.93 per cent to $3.16.

The early ASX rise came despite Wall Street suffering more losses overnight as the coronavirus pandemic continued to stoke economic fears. 

The Dow Jones ended its worst quarterly performance since 1987 with a 410.32 point fall, or 1.84 per cent drop, to 21,917.16.

It was also the S&P 500’s weakest quarter since 2008, even factoring in last week’s surge on fresh government stimulus.

The Reserve Bank of Australia is today scheduled to release the minutes of its ad hoc meeting held a fortnight ago, where board members decided to cut the cash rate to 0.25 per cent and launch quantitative easing measures. 

The Australian dollar was buying 61.36 US cents at 1030 AEDT, down from 61.90 US cents as the market closed on Tuesday.


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