Banks help ASX 0.47pc higher

Shares on the Australian market were almost half a per cent higher, mostly due to a gain of more than one per cent for banks.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 31.8 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 6729.0 at 1200 AEDT on Tuesday.

The All Ordinaries was up 28.2 points, or 0.40 per cent, at 6987.7.

The financial sector was up 1.41 per cent and next best was consumer discretionaries, which rose 0.83 per cent.

The ASX rise comes despite a negative lead from Wall Street. Investors there mostly sold stocks after recent big rallies following expectations of more economic stimulus from a Democrat-controlled US Congress.

Investors expect president-elect Joe Biden will provide larger cash payments for most Americans and other programs once he starts the role this month.

Democrats introduced a resolution to impeach President Donald Trump, and accused him of inciting insurrection following his supporters’ violent attack on the Capitol building last week.

In Australia, many Brisbane residents are enjoying their first full day without onerous coronavirus restrictions after a three-day lockdown.

No new infections were reported in Queensland on Tuesday, after a quarantine hotel cleaner in Brisbane tested positive to a more infectious strain last week.

NSW recorded five infections, all linked to Sydney clusters, while Victoria reported none.

The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index ticked-down 0.1 per cent in its first release of 2021.

The drop comes after the Brisbane COVID-19 lockdown and related border closures.

The index’s decline follows a two per cent drop just before Christmas when Sydney’s northern beaches went into lockdown.

On the ASX, buy now pay later provider Sezzle rose 6.56 per cent to $6.66 after record results for its fourth quarter ended December 31.

The company claimed record figures for underlying merchant sales and active users and merchants.

Merchant fees rose 195 per cent on the same quarter last year to $US17.2 million ($22.3 million).

In banking, the big four were all more than one per cent higher. NAB was best, up 1.8 per cent to $23.63.

Four-wheel-drive parts maker ARB Corporation was higher by 4.99 per cent to $33.23 after it said sales for the first-half were up 21 per cent on the same period the previous year.

First-half sales were $284 million for the six months to December 31, although the figures have not yet been audited.

ARB said it expects to give its first-half earnings on February 16.

Pushpay Holdings, which makes software that allows people to donate to a range of organisations, was up 2.67 per cent to $1.53.

The company said its December performance beat expectations and processing volume was higher than forecast.

It upgraded full-year earnings guidance from up to $US58 million to up to $US60 million.

Meanwhile chief customer officer Molly Matthews will replace Bruce Gordon as chief executive from March. Mr Gordon will remain a director.

The materials sector was down 0.21 per cent. BHP lost 0.3 per cent to $46.36, Fortescue shed 0.47 per cent to $25.09 and Rio Tinto declined 0.06 per cent to $122.32.

Earlier on US markets, the S&P 500 dropped 25.07 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 3,799.61. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 89.28 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 31,008.69. The Nasdaq composite slid 165.54 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 13,036.43.

The Aussie dollar was buying 77.06 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 76.95 US cents at the close of trade on Monday.

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