The Australian share market finished session higher on Monday, 27 July 2020, as risk sentiments boosted up by the New South Wales Government's decision to pause stamp duty for first-home buyers. However, market gains capped amid Victoria's continuing surge in COVID-19 cases and China stand-off.
At closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index added 20.18 points, or 0.33%, to 6,044.17. The broader All Ordinaries climbed 21.59 points, or 0.35%, to 6,169.60. Communications, property stocks, tech firms and consumer discretionary all finished ahead while the energy and utilities sectors dragged.
Market sentiments boosted by the the New South Wales Government's decision to pause stamp duty for first-home buyers. The pausing of stamp duty in New South Wales for first-home buyers of new homes under $800,000 is credit positive for the construction sector.
Uncertain investors flocked to safe-haven assets in the shadow of diplomatic tensions between China and the US, and the continued spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a letter to the United Nations over the weekend, Australia declared that China had no legal claim to disputed islands in the South China Sea.
A Chinese Government mouthpiece, The Global Times, called Australia's move a reckless "provocation", and warned it could lead to trade sanctions against Australian beef and wine. Also causing investor anxiety was China's decision to evict US diplomats from their consulate in Chengdu. That was in relation for the US ordering China to close its consulate in Houston, Texas over alleged intellectual property theft and threatening America's national security.
Australia recorded its highest number of daily infections for the pandemic so far while Spain and South East Asia are also reporting dire numbers.
A new all-time for gold at $US1944 an ounce buoyed the materials sector - in particular miners such as Newcrest, Northern Star, and Evolution. Major mining group BHP ended up 0.9% to A$37.4 and Fortescue Metals added 0.5% to A$16.37, while shares in rival Rio Tinto fell 0.03% to A$102.89. Rare earths miner Lynas was up 12% to A$2.43 after announcing a contract with the US Department of Defence for Phase 1 funding of a proposed processing operation in Texas.
Shares of major banks ended lower, with Westpac stock falling 0.2% to A$17.72, while Commonwealth Bank declined 0.5% to A$72.49. ANZ closed the day down 0.3% to A$18.23 and NAB dipped by 0.2% to A$17.95.
CURRENCY NEWS: The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7138 following its rise from levels below $0.702 last week.
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