ASX lifts on COVID-19 vaccine hope, Macquarie first-half earnings to fall 35pc

Australian shares have recovered some of last week’s heavy losses, led by a rebound in mining and energy stocks.

Key points:

  • The ASX 200 has fallen by 3pc since September 1
  • The Australian dollar is steady at 72.8 US cents
  • The Government will include $211 million in the Budget to bolster Australia’s fuel storage

    The ASX 200 added 40 points (or 0.7 per cent) to close at 5,890.

    Investor sentiment was helped by Victoria (which accounts for a quarter of Australia’s economic output) recording just 35 new coronavirus infections — its lowest number since late June.

    Locally, one of the best-performing stocks was Starpharma (+8.2pc), after it announced its nasal spray showed “potent” results against COVID-19.

    In a statement to the ASX, Starpharma said “additional testing” in the laboratory produced “potent virucidal activity, inactivating more than 99.9 per cent of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.”

    Renewed hope for a COVID-19 vaccine also provided a boost to Asia-Pacific markets as Oxford University and AstraZeneca resumed their late-stage trials on the weekend.

    The trials of the experimental vaccine were briefly suspended last week following a reported side-effect in a British patient.

    By 4:30pm AEST, modest gains were seen in New Zealand’s NZX 50 (+0.4pc), the Shanghai Composite (+0.1pc), Japan’s Nikkei (+0.7pc) and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index (+0.7pc).

    The Australian dollar was steady at 72.8 US cents.

    Energy sector driven by Morrison stimulus

    The best performing stocks were coal miners Whitehaven Coal (+7.3pc) and New Hope Corporation (+8.5pc).

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    Shares in Viva Energy Group, the company which owns the Geelong Refinery and is the exclusive licensee of the Shell brand in Australia, surged 5.6 per cent.

    This was after the Federal Government

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