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ASX rises on health stock boost


The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 added 0.9 per cent to finish 62.8 points higher at 7355 points

Australian stock market shrugged off weak sessions in Wall Street and Europe to stage a one-day rally on Tuesday, despite rising COVID cases in Australia.

The ASX’s (Australian Securities Exchange) strength came from the healthcare sector, where diagnostic companies got a boost from a pre-Christmas surge in COVID-19 testing.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 added 0.9 per cent to finish 62.8 points higher at 7355 points. This was the best one-day gain in two weeks with 140 companies closing higher, but volumes were thin.

Japan’s Nikkei surged nearly 2 per cent as volatility lured day-traders into the market, according to Oanda’s senior market analyst in Asia Pacific, Jeffrey Halley.

Asian equities are mostly higher today, thanks to a wave of short-covering sharply lifting US index futures in ever thinner liquidity, he said.

We are one headline away, be it Omicron or something else, from normal service resuming. I’ll say it again, December is about V for Volatility and not directional market trends. Searching for conspiracies or rays of hope on every intraday move is a fool’s errand, he said.

On the ASX, healthcare giant CSL advanced 4.9 per cent to $287.21, the best one-day gain since August.

Medical diagnostics company Sonic Healthcare finished at a new high of $45.47 as investors hoped it would soon follow Australian Clinical Labs (ACL) in upgrading guidance due to higher COVID testing levels.

ACL climbed 12.2 per cent to $5.60. It floated in May at $4.

Cochlear added 3.9 per cent, Nanosonics rose 7.5 per cent, and Ramsay Health finished 3.1 per cent higher at $70.31.

Afterpay shares hit a 14-month low of $80.21 during trade after agreeing to issue 6.5 million shares to US venture capital fund Matrix Partners.

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