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ASX records third straight week of gains

Steven Deare
·4-min read

An early end to South Australia's coronavirus lockdown was not enough to inspire investors in a lacklustre day on the Australian share market, but they finished the week happy.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index had little movement throughout the session and closed down eight points, or 0.12 per cent, to 6539.2 on Friday.

The All Ordinaries closed lower by 2.8 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 6739.9.

The indices were set to record minor gains but dipped sharply after the close of trade at 1600 AEDT.

Energy was the worst sector, down 1.52 per cent, while materials lost 0.64 per cent.

South Australia's six-day lockdown will end early after it emerged a person closely linked to Adelaide's worrying COVID-19 cluster lied to contact tracers, easing concerns over community transmission.

The lockdown will end at midnight on Saturday, three days early.

The news appeared not to matter to investors.

Neither did retail sales data which showed a 1.6 per cent rise in October. This was helped by shops being allowed to trade again in Victoria after that state's lockdown.

While US markets finished higher, global investors may have lost hope after trading closed.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asked the US Federal Reserve to return money earmarked under the March pandemic relief act for emergency lending to businesses, non-profits and local governments.

That would mark a December 31 end to most of the crisis-response programs.

Still, investors should be happy after the ASX200 gained 2.09 per cent for the week.

This was the third consecutive week of gains.

After a week in which Moderna and Pfizer claimed their COVID-19 vaccines were 95 per cent effective, Shaw and Partners chief investment officer Martin Crabb was not concerned by the Friday lull.

He used a sprinter analogy for the week.

"We've sprinted up a hill, and you can't sprint forever, you need a breather," he said.

"It doesn't mean they've run out of momentum and headed back down. It's just a pause."

In Australia, a review into the retirement income system has found it to be effective and sound, but questioned future legislated increases to the superannuation guarantee.

The independent review handed to the Morrison government in July was released by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

The government has yet to make a decision on whether to pause the increases, which are due in July.

The Commonwealth Bank finished best of the big four after the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority wound back its requirement the bank carry an extra $1 billion in risk capital by $500 million.

APRA said the bank had made progress in addressing concerns about governance.

Shares closed higher by 1.43 per cent to $80.00.

Ratings agency Moody's downgraded Crown's credit rating, as a NSW regulatory inquiry heard the gaming giant is unable to govern itself.

Crown said the downgrade meant it will face increased interest costs for company notes.

Shares finished lower by 1.37 per cent to $9.33.

IAG will raise up to $750 million through a share sale after a NSW court ruled insurers have to pay compensation to business customers affected by the pandemic.

IAG will set aside $865 million for the potential cost of pandemic claims.

Shares remained suspended from trading.

Next week there are annual general meetings for Harvey Norman and Ramsay Health Care, while retailers will be looking for a sales boom from the annual Black Friday promotion.

The Aussie dollar was buying 72.93 US cents at 1722 AEDT, the same as at Thursday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed down eight points, or 0.12 per cent, to 6539.2 on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries closed lower by 2.8 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 6739.9.

* At 1722 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was lower by one point, or 0.02 per cent, to 6533.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 72.93 US cents, from 72.93 US cents on Thursday

* 75.69 Japanese yen, from 75.66 yen

* 61.37 Euro cents, from 61.49 cents

* 54.93 British pence, from 55.07 pence

* 105.28 NZ cents, from 105.58 cents.