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Australia Market extends gain to third day

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The Australian share market finished higher for third straight session on Wednesday, 18 November 2020, thanks to gains from the major banks, after the country's central bank governor assured that rising house prices were not a cause for concern.

At closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 added 32.89 points, or 0.51%, to 6,531.10. The broader All Ordinaries rose 28.66 points, or 0.43%, to 6,726.49.

Shares of the banks did most of the heavy lifting today, with the big four lifting by ~2.5 per cent, as the Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe said he was not worried about rising home prices yet because demand is weaker due to slow population growth this year. Bourse operator ASX edged up 0.4 percent despite Morgan Stanley cutting its price target, citing tech outages.

Energy stocks fell after bigger-than-expected build in U. S. crude stocks and weaker U. S. retail sales stoked fears over fuel demand.

Shares of Oil Search and Santos were among the biggest drags.

Some stocks closely tied with tourism also pushed lower. Sydney Airport (SYD) and Qantas (QAN) were both down by ~1%. South Australia is about to enter a six-day lockdown to control the coronavirus.

In economic news, Australia's leading index signaled above trend growth in both the September and December quarters, Westpac said Wednesday. The six-month annualized growth rate in the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Index, which indicates the likely pace of economic activity relative to trend three to nine months into the future, rose to +3.25 percent in October from -0.47 percent in September. This was the first positive, above trend, growth rate since November 2018 and also the strongest seen since the early 1980s. However, Westpac said the momentum will slow in 2021 as the sharp initial improvement in activity due to the easing of domestic restrictions ends.

CURRENCY NEWS: The Australian dollar was at $0.7308 against the dollar, firming from earlier levels.

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Wed, November 18 2020. 17:09 IST