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Aussie shares have added to this morning’s gains, while hovering around intraday highs, with the ASX 200 lifting by 1.1 per cent to 6,068.9. While most sectors are improving, gains from tech stocks, financials, healthcare and materials are standing out. This follow’s Monday’s decline of 0.53 per cent on very light volume, with quite a bit of cash sitting on the sidelines ahead of what is a busy week.

Uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus in Victoria and NSW remains, with Victoria recording 374 cases over the past day despite almost two weeks in lockdown. The RBA Governor is set to deliver a speech today where he is likely to weigh-in on the metro Melbourne lockdown, while the Treasurer will provide a Budget update this Thursday.

US and European markets were mostly higher last night, with the S&P500 turning positive for the year. Encouraging signs for a potential COVID-19 vaccine from UK pharma AstraZeneca and Oxford University seemed to help. The Australian government’s decision to extend JobKeeper and JobSeeker emergency payments for another six months (through to March 2021) also provided a helpful boost.

BHP is largely unchanged following a quarterly update released this morning. The world’s largest miner met most of its full year production goals. This includes iron ore, which is likely to boost revenue thanks to an impressive lift in the commodity’s price thanks to more demand in China. Its petroleum business was a little weak because of a drop in demand for gas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oil Search (OSH) said that production and sales of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) eased by just 1 per cent in the second quarter. However, due to a tumble in LNG and oil prices, revenues slumped by 26 per cent to US$266.2m. Santos (STO) will recognise a non-cash impairment charge in the range of US$700-$800m before tax in its half year results due on 20 August 2020. The energy group blamed the charge on COVID-19’s impact on prices. While STO shares are edging higher, this follows firmer oil prices overnight, gains for most energy stocks and more substantial declines yesterday. (KGN) continues to benefit from changes in consumer spending during the pandemic. Gross sales have close to doubled in the fourth quarter (vs 4Q19), gross profit more than doubled and it added 109,000 customers in June (~2.18m active customers in total).

Downer (DOW) has entered a trading halt. The engineering group flagged a FY loss of between $150-$160m, following $386m in goodwill impairment charges and restructuring costs. DOW also announced a $400m capital raising to strengthen its balance sheet. Ardent Leisure (ALG) said that the Queensland Work Health and Safety Prosecutor has filed three charges against the group arising from the Thunder River Rapids tragedy in 2016. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of $1.5m.

Afterpay (APT) is up 6.3 per cent and has pushed back above $70 per share. The buy-now-pay-later stock is up by ~150 per cent Year-to-Date. Other stocks in the sector including Zip Co (Z1P), Openpay (OPY), Sezzle (SZL) and Splitit (SPT) are also higher this morning.

3.3bn shares have changed hands so far today worth $3.3bn. 808 stocks are up, 345 down and 323 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec