The Australian share market finished session higher on Wednesday, 21 October 2020, as investors mood lifted up lifted by renewed hopes for an agreement to be reached on U. S. stimulus measures. Adding to the upbeat mood, AstraZeneca Plc's COVID-19 vaccine trial in the United States was expected to resume as early as this week.
At closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index added 7.23 points, or 0.12%, to 6,191.80. The broader All Ordinaries rose 6.29 points, or 0.1%, to 6,403.08.
Wall Street gained overnight as U. S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed hopes of clearing the coronavirus relief package this week, bringing some stability to markets amid heightened uncertainty ahead of the presidential election. With just two weeks until the US presidential election, lawmakers moved closer to agreement on a new coronavirus relief package as President Donald Trump said he was willing to accept a large aid bill despite opposition from his own Republican Party. The news helped Wall Street finish higher overnight and buoyed sentiment in Asia.
The financials and energy sectors led the charge higher. Global crude oil prices firmed up overnight by as much as 1.5% on hopes that a US stimulus package would support crude demand.
Oil Search (OSH) lifted 3.5% and Santos (STO) was up 2%. The major lenders all ended in positive territory. National Bank (NAB) outperformed its peers with a gain of 1.6 with ANZ Bank (ANZ) following closely behind, adding 1.4%. Meanwhile Commonwealth Bank (CBA) and Westpac (WBC) have made smaller gains. WBC's $1.3 billion fine for AML/CTF compliance breaches has been approved by the Federal Court.
On the downside, consumer staples and healthcare weighed heavily. IT losses were led by BNPL providers with Afterpay (APT) easing 0.6% after hitting record highs during yesterday's session. Cloud software firm, Megport (MP1) fell 13% having released a quarterly update this morning. Revenue for the period was $17.3 million, which was a slight rise of 2% from the previous quarter.
CURRENCY NEWS: The Aussie dollar has firmed this morning and is buying 70.75 US cents as the preliminary retail trade release for September fell 1.5% in August. The AUD is supported by a weaker USD.
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