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ASX's best week in seven as JobKeeper ends

·4-min read

Investors have had their best week on the ASX in the past seven, while the surging buy now, pay later sector may be the best indicator of any effect on shares from the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed up 33.6 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 6824.2 on Friday.

Investors have been reluctant to push the index much higher than 6800 points in the past couple of months.

The All Ordinaries closed higher by 40.5 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 7063.1.

The materials sector, which includes miners, made a key contribution and rose 1.24 per cent.

There were gains of more than one per cent for telecommunications and information technology.

For the week, the ASX200 rose 1.73 per cent.

The increase came after ASX investors were largely untroubled by the prospect of a third coronavirus wave in Europe, and mid-week comments by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen about possible tax hikes to fund economic stimulus.

These matters unsettled investors in European and US markets.

A lower Aussie dollar also helped the ASX, as shares became cheaper for those overseas.

Domestically, Treasury officials have estimated up to 150,000 people may lose their jobs after Sunday with the expiry of the government's JobKeeper subsidy.

Economists have forecast the unemployment rate to rise.

JobKeeper was introduced last year to help employers retain workers during the pandemic.

CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy was unsure whether the subsidy's expiry would affect investors.

"A bellwether for whether the end of JobKeeper impacts the market will be the buy now, pay later sector," he said.

These stocks, such as Afterpay, Zip and Openpay have a high rate of retail investor ownership.

"It's the sector that would best reflect a change in investment behaviour because of the end of JobKeeper," Mr McCarthy said.

NAB chief economist Alan Oster did not expect JobKeeper's end would matter to corporates.

He said research showed JobKeeper contributed about 0.2 per cent to revenue growth among the bank's corporate clients.

On the ASX, AMP denied media reports chief executive Francesco De Ferrari has resigned and said there was no change to his position.

However, the company said Mr De Ferrari and the board were discussing leadership after AMP's portfolio review.

AMP shares resumed trading, after being paused on Thursday, and closed higher by 0.94 per cent to $1.34.

TPG Telecom's David Teoh resigned, having steered a merger between the company he founded and Vodafone last year.

Mr Teoh had resigned as chairman and a director. His son Shane also resigned from the board.

Shares fell to a record low of $6.23 and closed down 6.7 per cent to $6.41.

Telstra said it will delist from New Zealand's share market in June after shareholder numbers on the Kiwi register declined.

Shares were up 2.4 per cent to $3.41.

In mining, BHP gained 0.42 per cent to $45.07, Fortescue rose 3.81 per cent to $20.15 and Rio Tinto increased by 2.16 per cent to $110.33.

In banking, there were gains of less than one per cent for each of the big four except for the Commonwealth. The latter fell 0.62 per cent to $86.00.

There will be shortened trading next week due to the Good Friday public holiday.

International trade figures for February will be published on Thursday.

Australia posted the biggest monthly trade surplus in its history, $10.1 billion, for January as the economy rebounded from recession.

The Australian dollar was buying 76.24 US cents at 1724 AEDT, higher from 75.99 US cents at Thursday's close.


* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed up 33.6 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 6824.2 on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 40.5 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 7063.1.

* At 1724 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was higher by two points, or 0.03 per cent, and trading at 6801 points.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 76.24 US cents, from 75.99 cents on Thursday

* 83.29 Japanese yen, from 82.77 yen

* 64.70 Euro cents, from 64.27 cents

* 55.40 British pence, from 55.50 pence

* 109.18 NZ cents, from 108.94 cents.