ASX rises despite bleak IMF outlook

The Australian share market has followed Wall Street higher at the start of trade even as warnings mount of worsening unemployment and economic conditions because of the coronavirus fallout. 

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was up 41.4 points, or 0.75 per cent, at 5,529.5 points in the first 15 minutes of trade on Wednesday, the highest in a month. 

The banks and healthcare stocks surged and only the energy sector sagged.

The All Ordinaries index was up 43.9 points, or 0.79 per cent, to 5,586.4.

US stocks rose overnight after the White House said President Donald Trump would make a number of announcements about reopening the US economy in the next day or two as the health crisis appeared to be easing. 

However, the International Monetary Fund expects Australia to suffer its biggest economic blow since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The IMF said it expected unemployment to remain high for at least two years beyond the coronavirus pandemic, with Australia to be among the bottom third of the world’s top 20 economies. 

Gold prices have hit their highest mark in seven years but oil has slipped as investors bet that a virus-driven drop in fuel demand destruction would be too much for global output cuts to offset.

The Australian dollar was buying 64.33 US cents at 1015 AEST, up from 64.10 US cents at the close of markets on Tuesday.

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