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Aust shares finish better on vaccine hope

Steven Deare
·4-min read

Investors had a mostly glitch-free day on the Australian share market and the indices closed slightly higher after enthusiasm over the development of a coronavirus vaccine.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed up 13.9 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 6498.2 on Tuesday.

The All Ordinaries gained 10.8 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 6697.8.

Trade went smoothly for most investors, after the botched introduction of a new system limited the Monday session to 24 minutes.

However, some glitches appear to remain.

The ASX at 1158 AEDT said it detected data issues with its Centre Point system, used by banks and other institutions to trade shares.

Prices would be based on the ASX lit best bid and offer until further notice, the market operator said.

Meanwhile, US biotech Moderna's claim that its vaccine in development was 94.5 per cent effective in preventing infection gave hope life may one day return to normal.

SG Hiscock portfolio manager Hamish Tadgell noted investors opted for cyclical stocks - those closely tied to economic activity - such as energy and banks.

These businesses and stocks could gain greatly should society resume pre-COVID habits.

Energy gained the most of the sectors, higher by 3.43 per cent.

Financials was next, up 1.39 per cent.

Tuesday's gains were not as great as those that followed Pfizer's claim it had a vaccine in development that was 90 per cent effective, but Mr Tadgell was unsurprised.

He cited surging coronavirus infections in the US and Europe, and restrictions on movement.

"That is what the market is trying to balance," he said of the dire situation.

"The fact we've got a vaccine candidate is a positive but it's not the panacea."

In Australia, employment grew modestly at the end of October, with a jobs recovery in Victoria as COVID-19 restrictions were eased.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows payroll jobs grew 0.5 per cent nationally over the fortnight to October 31 and by one per cent in Victoria.

In NSW, restaurant vouchers and tax cuts were part of Treasurer Dominic Perrottet's pandemic budget.

NSW's six-year streak of budget surpluses ended in the year to June 30, going $6.9 billion into the red, while the forecast deficit for 2020/21 is $16 billion.

That's mainly due to $29 billion spent on health and economic support packages.

On the ASX, energy companies thrived. Beach was the best of the big names. It closed 7.44 per cent higher to $1.66.

Afterpay's global sales were on course for a record month as more businesses adopt the service in the UK and US.

Co-CEO Anthony Eisen at the company's annual general meeting said last month was a record one for global sales, and November sales were on course to top those figures. He did not provide figures.

Shares were down5.44 per cent to $95.93, and the information technology sector fell 2.8 per cent.

Shares in the ASX were down 1.35 per cent to $81.19 after the technical problems of Monday.

Financial regulator ASIC said it had significant concerns and would review whether ASX met regulatory requirements and the conditions of its licence.

It will also ask ASX for an incident report.

ANZ was best of the big banks, up 2.45 per cent to $21.72.

In mining, BHP rose 2.52 per cent to $37.01, Rio Tinto gained 1.03 per cent to $98.80 and Fortescue was up 1.92 per cent to $17.00.

The Aussie dollar was buying 73.17 US cents at 1725 AEDT, higher from 72.89 US cents at Monday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed up 13.9 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 6498.2 on Tuesday.

* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 10.8 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 6697.8.

* At 1725 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was lower by three points, or 0.05 per cent, to 6498.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 73.17 US cents, from 72.87 US cents on Monday

* 76.45 Japanese yen, from 76.20 yen

* 61.71 Euro cents, from 61.49 cents

* 55.37 British pence, from 55.11 pence

* 106.08 NZ cents, from 106.03 cents.