SYDNEY, AAP – Investors have kept the ASX trading higher despite news of a three-day coronavirus lockdown for Brisbane, and followed US traders’ optimism for economic stimulus.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index moved lower early, and fell to a session low of 6713.8 in the first 33 minutes.
However, it later climbed to its highest level of the session at 1200 AEDT, up 35.6 points, or 0.53 per cent, to 6747.6 on Friday.
The All Ordinaries was up 35.7 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 7016.2.
Investors appeared unshaken by the Queensland government declaring a lockdown for Greater Brisbane after a cleaner at a quarantine hotel was diagnosed with the highly contagious UK variant of COVID-19.
States and territories require travellers from Brisbane to isolate or quarantine.
Yet trade was tame compared to the record levels of US markets earlier. Investors there bet a Democrat-controlled Congress will deliver more stimulus spending, after the party clinched two key seats in the Senate that will give them the balance of power.
CommSec market analyst James Tao said the modest gains in Australia were understandable following the rise of 1.59 per cent on the ASX200 on Thursday.
Information technology was the best sector, up 2.15 per cent.
Energy had a 1.4 per cent gain while consumer discretionaries rose 1.35 per cent.
Miners BHP, Fortescue and Rio Tinto all set share price records early, despite the materials sector being little changed.
BHP reached $47.15, then eased to be 0.19 per cent higher to $46.99.
Fortescue has notched a share price record on each day of this week, and its latest was $26.40.
It has since eased to be lower by one per cent to $25.66.
Rio Tinto’s record was $127.00, then it eased to be lower by 0.23 per cent to $125.36.
The owner of Radio Rentals, Thorn Group, has suspended a share buy-back of about $15 million to $25 million.
The company last year proposed the buy-back, but has since had negative feedback from shareholders.
Shares were paused from trading and last sold for 18.5 cents.
Accent Group, which owns the Athlete’s Foot shoe stores and fashion stores Hype DC and Supra, reached a record high of $2.46.
The surge comes after Accent on Thursday said half-year earnings were expected to improve by up to 45 per cent on the same equivalent period.
The company had stronger than expected sales in November and December.
Shares had since eased to be better by 3.82 per cent to $2.44.
In banking, Westpac was best of the big four. It rose 1.2 per cent to $20.23.
In the US earlier, the S&P 500 rose 55.65 points, or 1.5 per cent, to 3,803.79. The Dow gained 211.73 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 31,041.13. The tech-heavy Nasdaq climbed 326.69 points, or 2.6 per cent, to 13,067.48.
The Aussie dollar was buying 77.55 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 77.91 US cents at the close of trade on Thursday.