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ASX ends up but SA lockdown a concern

Steven Deare
·4-min read

A six-day stay-at-home coronavirus order to South Australians has briefly troubled investors, who still helped the Australian share market close higher.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed up 32.9 points, or 0.51 per cent, to 6531.1 on Wednesday and remains at levels last reached in February.

The All Ordinaries closed higher by 28.7 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 6726.5.

South Australians face an uncomfortable time and many businesses will close in efforts to stop a COVID-19 cluster in Adelaide.

The virus has infected more than 20 people in the city's northern suburbs and officials expect to find more cases.

The ASX200 dipped by about 25 points following the news, but remained higher until the close of trade.

IG Markets analyst Kyle Rodda was a little surprised by the scale of the drop.

He said the lockdown would be brief and confined to South Australia.

However, there could be greater repercussions for the economy.

"This is a reminder that it's hard to extinguish the virus completely from the community," he said.

"It may lead to reluctance from state governments to keep borders open."

This would be bad for the nation's economic recovery from the virus, Mr Rodda said.

Indeed many states and territories have closed their borders to South Australia, although NSW and Victoria have not.

Meanwhile, annual wage growth slumped to a record low of 1.4 per cent in the September quarter as a result of the pandemic.

The September quarter wage price index - a key measure of wages growth used by the Reserve Bank and Treasury - rose just 0.1 per cent.

It compares with an annual rate of 1.8 per cent as of June.

Crown Resorts' plans to open a $2.2 billion casino in Sydney next month were crushed after the NSW gaming regulator found it would pose "unacceptable risks".

The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority decided to withhold approval until an extraordinary probity inquiry into Crown's fitness to run the casino finishes in February.

Crown briefly suspended trading in its shares. They finished down 0.62 per cent to $9.64.

National Australia Bank branches shut their doors due to a "physical security threat".

The big four bank at about 1400 AEDT said it had closed branches temporarily.

Shares finished 2.06 per cent higher to $22.29 in a session in which financials had the best gains, 1.74 per cent.

ANZ closed 1.34 per cent higher to $22.01, the Commonwealth was up 2.87 per cent to $77.55 and Westpac rose by 2.26 per cent to $19.45.

New Zealand milk supplier A2 said sales to Chinese resellers would improve after supply difficulties from coronavirus restrictions, but investors appeared to be bracing for a revenue hit.

A2 executives told an annual general meeting they expected only a temporary sales impact from the earlier severe virus restrictions in Victoria, which hampered shipping milk to resellers in China.

Shares finished down 4.83 per cent to $13.98.

In mining, BHP, BlueScope, Fortescue and Rio Tinto finished less than one per cent lower.

Earlier in the US, markets closed lower as investors worried about the possibility of more virus restrictions to counter surging infection rates.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the surge could discourage consumers from spending and hurt the economy.

On Thursday, job figures for October will be published.

Economists expect the number of people employed will fall by around 30,000 and the unemployment rate to rise to 7.1 per cent.

The Aussie dollar was buying 72.94 US cents at 1723 AEDT, lower from 73.19 US cents at Tuesday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed up 32.9 points, or 0.51 per cent, to 6531.1 on Wednesday.

* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 28.7 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 6726.5.

* At 1723 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was lower by six points, or 0.09 per cent, to 6519.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 72.94 US cents, from 73.17 US cents on Tuesday

* 75.86 Japanese yen, from 76.45 yen

* 61.43 Euro cents, from 61.71 cents

* 54.99 British pence, from 55.37 pence

* 105.74 NZ cents, from 106.08 cents.