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Strong close means best week in 15 for ASX

·4-min read

The local share market has ended the week with a flourish, with strong gains by tech stocks and lithium players helping offset weakness in the energy sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index gained 28 in the final hour of trade to finish Friday up 50.3 points, or 0.77 per cent, at 6,578.7.

The broader All Ordinaries gained 71 points, or 1.06 per cent, at 6,762.4.

The ASX200 finished up 1.6 per cent for the week, its best performance since the week ending March 18.

"Also our first back-to-back improvements for the month as well," noted CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian.

"But we're still in that correction territory."

The index is down 8.8 per cent in June, putting it on track for its worst monthly performance since March 2020, with four trading days still to go.

Tech stocks were the biggest gainers on Friday, collectively rising six per cent for their best performance since May 13.

"Certainly the worst performer this month, but some improvements today," Mr Daghlian said of the sector.

Xero rose 7.5 per cent to $82.15, Nearmap soared 18 per cent to $1.15 and Afterpay owner Block rose 10.9 per cent to $98.50.

The sector has been boosted by a drop in bond yields, which makes the risky high-growth sector seem more attractive.

Australian 10-year bond yields hit an eight-year high of 4.1 per cent last week after Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe gave a hawkish interview to the ABC, but tumbled to 3.7 per cent this week amid fears the pace of rate hikes will trigger a recession.

Meanwhile, Vulcan Energy soared 26.8 per cent to $6.34 after Fiat and Chrysler owner Stellantis N.V. agreed to take an eight per cent stake in the emerging lithium producer for $76 million.

It's the first upstream investment in a lithium company by a top tier automaker, and the funds will be used to expand Vulcan's zero-carbon-footprint lithium project in Germany's Upper Rhine Valley.

Other lithium players reacted positively, with Pilbara up by 8.8 per cent, Core Lithium gaining 8.9 per cent, Liontown Resources gaining 10.8 per cent, and Lake Resources up 15 per cent.

Elsewhere in the mining sector, the iron ore giants were mixed. BHP and Rio Tinto both dropped 1.2 per cent, to $40.02 and $101.40 respectively, while Fortescue added 0.2 per cent to $17.28.

The energy sector was down 1.45 per cent as oil prices continued to move lower on concerns about global growth. Woodside fell 1.7 per cent to $30.61 and Santos declined 1.8 per cent to $7.22..

Three of the four big banks were down, except CBA which rose 0.5 per cent to $90.16.

NAB fell 0.4 per cent to $27.02, while ANZ and Westpac both retreated by 0.7 per cent, to $21.91 and $19.48 respectively.

Consumer discretionary stocks rose 2.2 per cent, with Kmart owner Wesfarmers climbing 1.8 per cent, and property trusts gained 2.5 per cent.

Qantas however fell 1.6 per cent to $4.45 after the airline said it expects to report a "significant" full-year loss, although it might earn as much as $550 million in underlying operating profit for the second half.

The flag carrier is also cutting capacity, mostly from high frequency routes, to better cope with high fuel prices, while also announcing new flights from Perth to both Jakarta and Johannesburg.

Regional Express gained 2.5 per cent to $1.035 after announcing several new agreements with major travel agencies, including one that would make it Flight Centre's partner of choice for the next decade.

Shipmaker Austal gained 0.3 per cent to $1.85 after winning a $65 million contract modification to build more littoral combat ships for the US Navy.

Betmakers soared 20 per cent to 36c after the wagering technology company said it would conduct a buyback of up to 10 per cent of its shares.

The Australian dollar meanwhile was buying 69.03 US cents, from 68.75 US cents at Thursday's close.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 50.3 points, or 0,77 per cent higher, at 6,578.7 on Friday.

* The broader All Ordinaries gained 71 points, or 1.06 per cent, to 7,762.4

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 69.03 US cents, from 68.75 US cents at Thursday's close

* 92.83 Japanese yen, from 93.19 yen

* 65.57 Euro cents, from 65.40 cents

* 56.29 British pence, from 56.39 pence

* 109.71 NZ cents, from 109.93 cents

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