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It has been a strong start to trade on Friday for the local market with the ASX 200 aiming to finish a fifth straight day in positive territory. The benchmark index is firming 36 points or 0.54% to 6729 around lunch and was as up by as much as 48 points at its best. It is also looking to be the third consecutive weekly improvement with a gain of roughly 1.2%.

The healthcare sector is advancing the most in percentage terms helped by a solid jump in the price of ResMed (RMD). The medical device maker announced its first quarter earnings and has lifted operating profit by 19% to US$171.1 million (A$250 million) while revenue also saw double digit growth, up 16% to US$681 million. RMD
shares rose 15% at its best levels but has since settled to be 8.5% higher.

The IT sector is another to improve significantly. Major local tech names are mostly higher. Buy now pay later provider Afterpay Touch (APT) is 1.8% higher, accounting software firm Xero (XRO) is also advancing 1.9%. The major weight in the tech space is Wisetech Global (WTC), which continues its recent wild ride and is down another 1% so far. WTC shares have now fallen ~22% since a US based short seller released the first of two critical reports on the logistic software company overstating its profit and growth.

Gains have also been across most sectors with the big banks and miners mostly higher. Resolute Mining (RSG) has jumped 10% on news that the gold miner has repaired a key component at its Syama operations and will be fully operational in six weeks.

The only sector to decline is the industrial sector. The main weight there is waste management firm Cleanaway (CWY) which is sliding 13% on an update provided at its AGM. CWY has downgraded earnings expectations and now anticipates 1H20 earnings to be in line with the prior year due to a combination of lower economic activity, softness in commodity prices and a reduction in local Queensland volumes following the introduction of the landfill levy. Bingo Industries (BIN) is also down 5% as a result.

The Aussie dollar has also eased against a stronger USD and is now buying 68.15 US cents from 68.5 cents yesterday. So far, 1.8b units worth $3.8b have traded with 559 stocks higher, 427 lower and 365 unchanged.

Published by CommSec