ASX ends week on a high note

The ASX rose for the first time since Tuesday, helped by a very strong US lead, with higher oil and iron ore prices boosting producers.

The Australian sharemarket ended the week on a high note, with most sectors gaining ground on the back of a very strong lead from Wall Street and higher prices for iron ore and oil.

The S&P/ASX200 finished up 0.79 per cent at 6766.8 while the All Ordinaries Index rose 0.89 per cent to 7014.6, the first time the local bourse has improved since Tuesday.

OpenMarkets Group chief executive Ivan Tchourilov said a rally on the Nasdaq in the US overnight was due to investors looking for bargains in big tech names after two weeks of selling almost pushed the index into a technical correction.

It helped the broader S&P500 to a record high and markets were further supported after President Biden passed a $US1.9 trillion stimulus bill, Mr Tchourilov said.

He said the Australian market was flat for the week, with tech stocks also recovering well from prior weeks’ selling.

Buy-now-pay-later market leader Afterpay advanced 2.18 per cent to $113.42 while smaller rival Zip rose 1.66 per cent to $8.59.

Iron ore miners benefited from a 3.7 per cent lift in the price for the steelmaking commodity, with BHP adding 2.5 per cent to $47.97, Fortescue lifting 2.3 per cent to $21.26 and Rio Tinto firming 0.82 per cent to $116.65.

After Brent oil gained 2.4 per cent to $US69.56 a barrel, Oil Search put on 1.84 per cent to $4.42, Origin Energy advanced 3.79 per cent to $4.66, Woodside Petroleum appreciated 1.37 per cent to $25.09 and Santos was 0.7 per cent higher at $7.22.

Copper and gold producer OZ Minerals was a standout performer, jumping 6 per cent to $22.74.

Travel stocks pulled back from big gains on Thursday when the federal government announced $1.2bn in flight concessions to domestic travellers between April and October in a bid to boost domestic tourism.

“Many small businesses rely on tourism to make ends meet so hopefully this initiative will help,” Mr Tchourilov said.

“All the more reason to check out our own backyard.”

He said Flight Centre was a highly traded stock on Friday. Its shares fluctuated between $18.28 and $19.90 before closing 4.06 per cent weaker at $18.65.

Qantas was steady at $5.30 and Corporate Travel Management retreated 0.5 per cent to $21.80.

In company news, Nine ended its affiliation with Southern Cross Media, which broadcast some of Nine’s content over the past five years, and returned to WIN Network.

Nine chief executive Hugh Marks said WIN presented opportunities to both extend the reach of its premium content into more regional markets under one agreement, and work cooperatively on a national and local news operation.

Southern Cross Media plunged 10.4 per cent to $1.98 while Nine gave up almost 1 per cent to $3.

The big four banks were barely changed. ANZ firmed two cents to $28.24, Commonwealth Bank added four cents to $86.49, National Australia Bank put on two cents to $26.10 and Westpac lifted eight cents to $24.45.

The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority closed an investigation into Westpac launched in the wake of AUSTRAC fining the bank $1.3bn in September for repeatedly contravening the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing act — the biggest fine in corporate Australian history.

APRA looked into whether Westpac breached the Banking Act, including the Banking Executive Accountability Regime, but found no evidence.

APRA deputy chair John Lonsdale said the regulator remained “determined to ensure Westpac rectifies its risk governance weaknesses effectively and sustainably”.

The Aussie dollar was buying 77.64 US cents, 55.6 British pence and 64.93 Euro cents in afternoon trade.

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