- The ASX 200 gained as much as 0.5% to 7,522.90 by the lunchtime.
- Seven of the 11 sectors traded higher, while material and energy gained the most.
- Coal miner Whitehaven Coal topped the gainers’ chart, while Afterpay emerged as the top laggard.
- NSW reported 1,431 new local COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths in the past 24 hours.
- Credit ratings agency S&P Global raised its 2021 global economic growth outlook to 5.9%.
The Australian share market extended gains in the afternoon trade as higher commodity prices helped material and energy stocks recover ground. Investor sentiment also propped up firm cues from Wall Street, which climbed to record highs during the overnight trade. In a further boost to the market, credit ratings agency S&P Global raised its 2021 global economic growth outlook to 5.9% on acceleration in vaccination drive, raising optimism for the Australian economy as it seeks to avert a recession.
The ASX 200 was currently trading 27.10 points or 0.36% higher at 7,512.80 by the lunchtime. Early today, the index opened in green and rose as much as 0.5% to hit a high of 7,522.90.
On the sectoral front, seven of the 11 sectors were trading in the green zone, while the energy sector gained the most, thanks to a rise in crude price. The energy sector was followed by materials, utilities and health care, among others.
Meanwhile, the information technology sector was the worst performer, trading lower by 0.7% during the mid-session. The industrial, financial and telecom sector also traded lower with marginal losses.
COVID-19 cases hit a record high
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On the COVID-19 front, NSW reported 1,431 new local cases and 12 deaths in the past 24 hours, the highest number of daily case tally recorded in the state. Victoria also witnessed a spike in cases as its case tally rose 208 on Friday.
Top gainers and losers
The top gainer on the benchmark index was Australia’s biggest independent coal miner Whitehaven Coal (ASX: WHC) with a 4.5% gain. Some of the other notable gainers were miner Orocobre (ASX: ORE), resource company Iluka Resources (ASX: ILU), biopharma major Mesoblast (ASX: MSB) and mining firm Pilbara Minerals (ASX: PLS).
On the losing side, buy now, pay later major Afterpay (ASX: APT) topped the losers’ chart by falling 2.7%. Some of the other worst performers were Australia-based Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (ASX: BEN), corporate bookmaker PointsBet Holdings (ASX: PBH), fintech company IRESS (ASX:IRE) and plumbing and bathroom supplier Reece (ASX: REH).
Shares in news
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Shares of software firm Technology One (ASX: TNE) rose 2.5% on the acquisition news. Brisbane-based enterprise Software as a Service (SaaS) company has signed a deal to acquire Scientia Resource Management, a United Kingdom-based company servicing the higher education sector.
Shares of Lendlease Group (ASX: LLC), an Australian multinational construction, property and infrastructure firm, traded marginally lower following an ASX update. The company has appointed Tony Lombardo as managing director of the company.
Shares of AMA Group (ASX: AMA) plunged 9% after the shares resumed trading after a halt. The stock had entered into a trading halt on Thursday, pending a further announcement regarding its capital position.
The share price of Mont Royal Resources (ASX:MRZ) rallied 14% after the mining company unveiled a plan to acquire a stake in Australian proprietary firm Northern Lights Minerals (NLM). The company in an exchange filing said it would acquire 75% shares in NLM with the rights to acquire a significant land package in the Upper Eastmain Greenstone Belt located in Quebec, Canada.
Mobile security solutions provider DTI Group’s (ASX: DTI) shares traded 5% higher on plans to raise AU$2 million via fully underwritten entitlement offer.
Shares of Tombola Gold (ASX:TBA) gained 2.5% as the company plans to commence mining at Comstock Gold mine.
Shares of software and services firm MOQ (ASX: MOQ) traded flat after it announced the sale of its wholly owned subsidiary, Skoolbag. The company has executed a binding agreement for the sale of its 100% shares in Skoolbag.