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Australia: Shares end higher on further easing of virus curbs
[SYDNEY] Australian shares reversed course to end marginally higher on Wednesday on plans to accelerate resumption of public life and further opening up of its economy, although trade tensions with China and dismal domestic retail data capped gains.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.24 per cent higher at 5,573. The benchmark had fallen almost 1 per cent during the session as China, effectively, banned Australian barley imports and as Wall Street slumped overnight on doubts about a potential coronavirus vaccine.
Largest state New South Wales will allow people to resume travel for pleasure from next month, while the government is talking with Australian universities about allowing the return of some international students.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said just 11 new Covid-19 cases were recorded over the past 24 hours in Australia.
"The Australian market was defensively positioned today having not gained as much as the European or US stocks on the vaccine optimism earlier, thereby helping in the recovery," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets.
"Participants are quite optimistic about measures towards opening up the economy, but volatility also remains", Mr McCarthy added.
Across the Tasman sea, New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended marginally lower.