ASX higher, health & energy help gains

Australia’s share market was marginally higher, largely thanks to health and energy companies, after lagging for much of the opening two hours of trade.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 7.9 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 5972.8 points at 1200 AEST on Monday.

The All Ordinaries index was better by 12.5 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 6153.0.

The health sector was higher by 0.69 per cent and the energy sector better by 0.61 per cent.

CSL was up 0.42 per cent to $297.96.

Information technology had the best gains, 2.24 per cent.

Materials were higher by 0.09 per cent, while financials were down 0.25 per cent after a big rally on Friday on the proposal to ease responsible lending criteria.

In banking, ANZ was down 0.89 per cent to $17.77, the Commonwealth was lower by 0.42 per cent to $65.85, NAB declined by 0.51 per cent to $18.27 and Westpac fell by 0.96 per cent to $17.41.

In mining, BHP was down 1.03 per cent to $37.21, Rio dropped 0.59 per cent to $97.42 and Fortescue was up by 0.62 per cent to $16.01.

Travel stocks were doing well after the federal government said the October 6 budget will include financial support for airlines to keep key domestic and regional routes running, amid an industry slump due to the coronavirus.

The Domestic Aviation Network Support and the Regional Airline Network Support programs were due to end but will now be extended to January 31 and March 28 next year.

In a further boost, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has indicated arrangements allowing travel between Australia and New Zealand could be in place before the end of the year.

Webjet was higher by 7.65 per cent to $3.94, Qantas was up 5.15 per cent to $4.08, and regional airline Rex jumped by 4.64 per cent to $1.24.

Meanwhile several coronavirus restrictions have been eased in Melbourne, including the nightly curfew, although residents must contend with some tight restrictions continuing.

Westpac’s veteran economist Bill Evans has gone back on his claim that the Reserve Bank will on October 6 cut the cash and three year target bond rates to 0.1 per cent.

Today Mr Evans said he expected the decision would come on November 3. This would allow the federal government to better communicate its budget. 

In other news which could affect trading, Crown Resorts’ majority shareholder James Packer and senior board members are among the witnesses due to face a casino inquiry this week.

The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry is looking at whether a Crown Resorts subsidiary is suitable to hold a licence to operate a casino at Sydney’s Barangaroo.

Crown shares were lower by 1.63 per cent to $9.04.

The ASX performance comes after US markets closed higher on Friday due to technology stocks.

The Dow and the S&P 500 posted their longest weekly losing streaks in a year as fears of a slowing economy sparked an almost month-long rout.

Attention will soon turn to the first presidential debate on Tuesday between US President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.

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