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Australia: Shares rise on slowing coronavirus spread; New Zealand retreats

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Australian shares rose more than 3 per cent on Monday, driven by financials and miners, as hopes of a levelling-off of the coronavirus crisis in the United States and a slowing rate of daily new cases in Australia fuelled positive sentiment.

[BENGALURU] Australian shares rose more than 3 per cent on Monday, driven by financials and miners, as hopes of a levelling-off of the coronavirus crisis in the United States and a slowing rate of daily new cases in Australia fuelled positive sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index was up 3.2 per cent at 5,227.5 by 0035 GMT after Friday's 1.7 per cent drop.

US stock futures climbed more than 1.5 per cent in early Asian trading after US President Donald Trump expressed hope the country was seeing a "levelling off" of the virus crisis.

In Australia, confirmed cases rose to 5,687 by Sunday afternoon, suggesting that the daily rate of infections was below 5 per cent, about a fifth of what the country experienced in mid-March. The death toll rose to 34.

A slowdown in new cases of the virus and a slew of companies announcing capital raising to boost their balance sheet could be attributed to Monday's positive sentiment, said Henry Jennings, a senior analyst and portfolio manager at Marcustoday Financial Newsletter.

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Flight Centre Travel Group announced a A$700 million (S$606.7 million) equity capital raising, including A$282 million placement with institutional investors at A$7.20 per share.

Among gainers, heavyweight financials advanced 3.4 per cent, with all the Big Four banks rising between 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent.

Top lender Commonwealth Bank of Australia and peer Westpac Banking Corp gained nearly 2 per cent each.

Mining stocks added 3 per cent, with BHP Group and Rio Tinto gaining 1.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively.

Energy stocks were up 4 per cent, marking their sixth consecutive session of gains. Woodside Petroleum and Santos advanced 4.7 per cent and 6.3 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, Caltex Australia said it would extend the planned shutdown of Lytton oil refinery to ward off an expected hit to refining due to the pressure on demand amid the coronavirus pandemic. Shares of the fuel retailer were up nearly 5 per cent.

Gold stocks gained 3.5 per cent, with heavyweights Newcrest Mining and Northern Star Resources adding 3.4 per cent and 5.1 per cent, respectively.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped as much as 1.3 per cent to 9,807.98 after a near 0.7 per cent gain on Friday.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp and electricity generator Meridian Energy were among the top losers, slipping as much as 3 per cent each.

Auckland International Airport said it would raise up to NZ$1.2 billion (S$1 billion) to shore up its balance sheet.

REUTERS

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