Tech and energy stocks were the biggest gainers, while consumer staples declined. Image by James Gourley/AAP PHOTOS

market and exchange

ASX gains as Afterpay soars

2020-07-09 17:30:13

The Australian share market has finished higher, propelled by solid gains by Afterpay as well as gold prices hitting their highest levels in nearly nine years.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index moderated its gains towards the end of Thursday as US futures slipped, but it still closed up by 35.2 points, or 0.59 per cent, at 5,955.5 points. 

The All Ordinaries index was up 40.6 points, or 0.67 per cent, at 6,074.9.

“A raft of all-time record highs on the market,” said Burman Invest chief investment officer Julia Lee.

Afterpay soared 11.4 per cent to $73.50 after Morgan Stanley put a price target of $101 on the buy now, pay later giant.

It is now worth close to $20 billion, rivalling Woodside Petroleum – Australia’s largest independent oil and gas company – as the country’s 17th most valuable publicly traded company.

Others in the instalment payment space also did well, with Sezzle climbing 41.8 per cent to $6.95 before being put in a trading halt pending an announcement about a capital raising while Zip Co gained 10.4 per cent, FlexiGroup rose 5.0 per cent, Splitit added 6.1 per cent and Openpay advanced 20.2 per cent.

Machine-learning dataset company Appen closed at an all-time high of $36.45, up 0.9 per cent from Wednesday and up 62.3 per cent on the year. 

Goldminers Saracen Minerals, Evolution Mining, Gold Road Resources and West African Resources all hit all-time highs as the price of the yellow metal climbed over $US1,800 an ounce for the first time since September 2011.

Evolution was up 4.3 per cent to $6.32, Newcrest gained 1.7 per cent to $33.69 and Saracen advanced 2.1 per cent to $6.24.

Iron ore miners also did well as the price of the commodity hit its highest level this year.

BHP gained 2.0 per cent to $36.46, Rio Tinto rose 3.3 per cent to $98.67 and Fortescue Metals rose 1.4 per cent to $14.87.

New Zealand energy producers sank after Rio Tinto announced it would close an aluminium smelter near Invercargill that is the South Island’s biggest single electricity consumer.

Meridian Energy fell 10.2 per cent to $4.40, Genesis Energy fell 5.5 per cent to $2.77, Contact Energy dropped  13.1 per cent to $5.525 and Mercury NZ dipped 2.0 per cent to $4.48.

Energy producers gained with Santos rising 4.1 per cent, Woodside up 3.5 per cent and Oil Search rising 2.6 per cent.

The big banks were muted as new loan commitments for housing fell 11.6 per cent in May, the biggest fall on record.

ANZ, NAB and Westpac all gained 0.4 per cent, to $18.49, $18.06 and $17.91, respectively, while CBA dipped 0.2 per cent to $70.42.

Wealth platform Powerwrap soared 65.7 per cent to 29 cents after agreeing to be bought by rival Praemium for $55.6 million while Praemium gained 23.0 per cent to 45.5 cents.

Treasury Wine Estates slid 2.9 per cent to $10.95 after announcing its full-year earnings would be down 21 per cent amid increased competition in the United States.

The Australian dollar was buying 69.86 US cents, up from 69.34 US cents at the close of trade on Wednesday.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Thursday closed up 35.2 points, or 0.59 per cent, at 5,955.5 points

* The All Ordinaries closed up 40.6 points, or 0.67 per cent, at 6,074.9 points

* At 1718 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was down three points, 0.03 per cent, at 5,918 points

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 69.91 US cents, from 69.47 US cents on Wednesday

* 74.97 Japanese yen, from 74.46 yen

* 61.56 euro cents, from 61.53 cents

* 55.26 British pence, from 55.32 pence

* 106.12 NZ cents, from 106.06 cents.