The Australian share market finished session slight higher on Thursday, 13 February 2020, as buying on the back of U. S. shares' upbeat performance overnight gave way to selling after reports stated a sharp jump in the death toll from the coronavirus. At closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index advanced 15.03 points, or 0.21%, to 7,103.23, while the broader All Ordinaries added 19.31 points, or 0.27%, to 7,204.61.
China's Hubei province on Thursday reported a spike in the number of new coronavirus cases. It said it started to include clinically diagnosed cases in its tally. The death toll in China's Hubei province, the epicentre of the flu-like virus outbreak, rose by 242 to 1,310 as of Wednesday.
A record 14,840 cases were reported in Hubei on Thursday, from 2,015 new cases nationwide a day earlier, under a new method for diagnosing cases.
Market sentiment had been positive earlier in the week as the data had been showing an apparent slowdown in the pace of new reported cases, with policymakers in China having announced a series of measures to combat the expected economic slowdown from the virus outbreak.
Financials index rise as much as 1%. National Australia Bank, the country's third-biggest lender, rose 1.4% to a near three-month high after it said it was considering a fresh share sale and would revamp its strategy.
Breville Group shares were the standout performer, surging 27.6% to $25.50 after the release of a strong interim profit report. Goodman Group also found tailwinds from its earnings update, jumping 5.8% to A$16.30.
IDP Education, fresh from surging 29% a session earlier following its profit update, climbed another 6.5% to A$22.82, closing at fresh record highs. TPG Telecom shares also had a strong day, climbing 11.5% to A$8.15 after the Federal Court approved its A$15 billion merger with Vodafone-Hutchison Australia. Lynas shares also rallied 8.1% to A$2.28 on reports Malaysia has agreed to extend its rare earth processor's licence for an additional three years.
At the other end of the scoreboard, Treasury Wine Estates skidded 5.7% to A$11.18 after a large price target downgrade from Citi Research. Downer EDI slumped 5.1% to A$6.90 after a broker downgrade from Ord Minnett.
CURRENCY NEWS: The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6716 after touching an earlier high of $0.6738.
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