ASX ends in red as investors look beyond US stimulus, vaccines

The Australian share market has closed out the last full session of the year in the red, as local investors cooled their heels, mulling the next twist in the passage of the US stimulus bill and keeping an eye on the escalating COVID cases in New South Wales.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index ended the trading day 17.9 points, or 0.3 per cent, weaker to close at 6682.4. The index had slipped almost one per cent during the session but was able to pull itself back a touch in the final hour of trade.

The benchmark ASX 200 has managed to shrug of the pandemic.
The benchmark ASX 200 has managed to shrug of the pandemic.Credit: Tamara Voninski

Novus Capital senior client adviser Gary Glover said that investors were already starting to think about what happens next once the US stimulus payments and COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out.

“I’m worried that once the good news is out, where is the market left to go after that?”


“The market has gone up the whole time during COVID aside from the initial sell-off” he said.

The session marked a full stop to the Village Roadshow takeover saga. The stock was removed from the official list at the end of trading following the implementation of the deed of arrangement with private equity firm BGH, valuing the theme park operator at $586 million.

Meanwhile, The final IPO for 2020 BPM Minerals debuted at a 22 per cent premium to its 20c float price at 24.5c. The West Australian gold an nickel explorer closed at 25c.

Commonwealth Bank slipped 0.5 per cent to $83.59, NAB closed 0.4 per cent lower t0 $23.03 and ANZ Bank was down 0.4 per cent at $23.07

The thee iron ore heavyweights – BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals – managed to hold their ground. BHP lifted 0.5 per cent to $43.14, Rio gained 0.4 per cent to $115.78 and Fortescue closed flat at $23.98

Travel sector stocks were broadly subdued with Qantas flat at $4.96, Flight Centre slipped 1.6 per cent at $16.50 and Webjet slipping 1.1 per cent to $5.26.

Xero was the only one of the big five tech stocks to keep its head above water, with its shares up 0.7 per cent at $146.67. However market darling Afterpay took a hefty hit, falling 3.7 per cent to $117.63.

The property sector had a rough session, with mall owner Vicinity Centres sliding 1.8 per cent to $1.64, Stockland closing 2.5 weaker at $4.34 and Dexus dropping 1.7 per cent $9.59.

In the oil and gas sector, Beach Energy rose 2.24 per cent to $1.82, Woodside edged up 0. 3 per cent and Santos finished flat at $6.35.

Crude prices advanced overnight on hopes that pandemic aid could boost demand and spur economic growth. US crude rose 0.8 per cent to settle at $US48 per barrel and Brent settled at $US51.09 per barrel, up 0.45 per cent on the day.

The Australian market had a slow start on Wednesday after US markets came off their latest record highs, as cautious investors took money off the table and weighed up the prospects of the COVID stimulus bill passing the US senate.

The US House of Representatives voted on Monday to meet President Donald Trump’s demand for $2,000 direct payments to Americans as part of the recently signed fiscal relief bill, sending the measure to the Republican-controlled Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked an effort to approve the direct payments by unanimous consent, but said the chamber would address the increased stimulus checks this week.

All three major US stock indexes oscillated amid light trading volume, but ended flat as market participants balanced near-term challenges with longer-term hopes for economic recovery and a return to healthy demand.

Meanwhile European stocks maintained their positive momentum overnight, extending their year-end rally to close at a 10-month high. Investor sentiment has been boosted by the prospect of fresh stimulus and the European Union vaccination program getting under way.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.76 per cent and the UK’s FTSE 100 rallied 1.6 per cent on the first day of trading since the Brexit deal was sealed, closing up 100.5 points at 6,602.6 – the highest level since early March. The MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.29 per cent.

With Reuters

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