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The Australian sharemarket is having its best day in two weeks, with the ASX 200 lifting by 1.3 per cent and back above 6,000pts at lunch on Wednesday. This follows a solid 2.1 per cent lift for the Dow Jones overnight, signs of a better start for US markets tonight and encouraging results for a potential COVID-19 vaccine from a company called Moderna. This has been enough to offset the current reality of record cases in the US and the risk of contagion outside of Victoria.

The US earnings season kicked off overnight, with some of the world’s biggest banks releasing results. Citigroup, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase have collectively set aside $28bn to cover losses on bad loans due to the virus. Citigroup shares fell by 3.9 per cent and announced a 72 per cent slide in quarterly earnings. Wells Fargo shares dropped by 4.6 per cent after releasing its first loss since 2008 and significantly reduced its dividend.

All sectors are improving at lunch, with gains from Materials currently making the biggest difference.

Afterpay (APT) is up by 3.1 per cent after announcing that customers can now use Apple Pay to make purchases through Afterpay in physical retail stores and online. Starting this month, select retail stores in the US will begin offering Afterpay. It also announced that Google Pay will become available in the US this month.

Saracen Mineral (SAR) will resume mining operations at its Carosue Dam Operations in WA following a recent suspension due to a fatality. It has kept FY21 gold production guidance unchanged.

Woodside (WPL) increased production by 7 per cent to 25.9MMboe over the three months to 30 June. 1H20 output rose by 28 per cent to 50.1MMboe, however sales revenue slumped by 29 per cent to $768m due to weaker commodity prices.

Washington H. Soul Pattinson (SOL) said it ‘…no longer holds significant influence over its investment in TPG. The merger [between TPG and Vodafone Hutchison Australia] has reduced WHSP’s percentage holding in TPG…” to 12.6 per cent (previously 25.3 per cent). It now also only has one director on the telco’s Board of 10 (previously one on Board of five).

Origin (ORG) expects non-cash post-tax charges to reduce Statutory Profit by between $1,160m and $1,240m. The energy group will release its FY results on 20 August 2020. The one-off charges relate to COVID-19 economic impacts, revised commodity assumptions and the transition to a lower carbon energy supply.

2.7bn shares have changed hands so far worth a light $2.9bn. 774 stocks are up, 335 down and 328 are unchanged.

Published by CommSec