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ASX ends April with second strong rally

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The local bourse has ended April with a bang, recovering from the brutal three-day selloff that began last week with its best two-day rally since early in the pandemic.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed on Friday with a last-minute surge to finish up 78.1 points, or 1.06 per cent. The broader All Ordinaries index climbed 82.4 points, or 1.08 per cent, to 7,724.8.

The gains on Thursday and Friday were the ASX200's best back-to-back days since May 25-26, 2020, although Tuesday's sharp selloff meant the index still closed out the week down half a percentage point.

"It's a good way to finish the month - it's been one that most people aren't going to forget in a hurry, I can tell you that," said Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston. "There's been some outrageous moves."

Market sentiment has deteriorated quite sharply, but the ASX200 still finished April down only 0.86 per cent, Weston noted.

"We've been a massive outperformer relative to other global markets," Weston said. "That is down to the fact that bond yields around the world have moved higher, and we're a high-yielding index, so we've weathered the storm a lot better than a lot of markets around Asia and certainly the US.

"Anyone who hasn't seen the news flow might think it's a pretty quiet month, but outside of this one per cent move it's been absolute carnage."

Tech stocks led the market on Friday, collectively rising 2.25 per cent, following big gains overnight by their US counterparts.

Computershare added 3.1 per cent, Wisetech Global gained 2.1 per cent and Block advanced 0.6 per cent.

Nitro Software soared 20.2 to a three-week high of $1.37 after the digital document company announced cash receipts in the first quarter had risen 42 per cent to $US17 million, on the back of several key customer wins.

Kogan.com sunk 13.9 per cent to a more than two-year low of $3.91 after announcing gross sales were down 3.8 per cent in the March quarter compared to a year ago.

Chief executive Ruslan Kogan said "market conditions are challenging at present" and the online retailer would focus on recalibrating inventory levels, after mistakenly preparing for continued strong growth this year.

After trading as high as $24 in October 2020, Kogan shares are at their lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

ResMed dropped 4.1 per cent to $29.14 after the respiratory care device manufacturer announced that higher freight and manufacturing costs had reduced its profit margin in the March quarter.

The heavyweight mining sector underperformed, climbing just 0.4 per cent as Fortescue Metals dipped 0.5 per cent to $21.63. BHP and Rio Tinto were both basically flat, at $48.01 and $112.83, respectively.

Goldminers were up, with Newcrest adding 0.6 per cent, Northern Star advancing 0.7 per cent and Evolution climbing 1.3 per cent.

Firefinch added 16.1 per cent to $1.12 after detailing its plans to spin off its Mali lithium mine into a separate company, Leo Lithium. The demerger will leave Firefinch with its Morila gold mine, also in Mali.

Starpharma gained 6.3 per cent to 85 cents after the pharmaceutical company announced its cash balance increased $3.6 million in the March quarter as it prepares to relaunch its antiviral nasal spray in the United Kingdom.

Coalminer Stanmore Resources climbed 5.3 to a new all-time high of $2.37, as the war in Ukraine pushes coal prices higher. Yancoal gained 1.5 per cent and New Hope Corporation was up 1.7 per cent.

The Aussie dollar was buying 71.56 US cents, from 71.30 US cents on Thursday.

Weston said the other big story of the month was the "incredible run" of the US dollar, which has moved higher 18 of the past 20 days.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished up 78.1 points, or 1.06 per cent, to close at 7,435.0 on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries index gained 82.4 points, or 1.08 per cent, to 7,724.8.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 71.56 US cents, from 71.30 US cents when the ASX closed on Thursday

* 93.19 Japanese yen, from 92.90 yen

* 67.83 Euro cents, from 67.77 cents

* 57.11 British pence, from 56.94 pence

* 109.63 NZ cents, from 109.37 NZ cents.

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