Finance: ASX snaps five-day losing streak as tech stocks fly

The Australian share market snapped a five-day losing streak on Friday as a positive lead from Wall Street overnight propelled local tech stocks higher.

The benchmark, S&P/ASX200 rallied 1 per cent, or 74.7 points, to 7,421.2 at the closing bell, while the All Ordinaries also rallied, adding a similar amount to close at 7,652.3.

The Australian dollar was higher against its US counterpart, buying US65.78c at the closing bell.

But even as stocks had a strong showing to close the week, the benchmark shed 1 per cent of its value over the week, after closing lower for four consecutive sessions.

Rising tech shares pushed US indices higher overnight The S&P 500 rose 0.9 per cent, while the Nasdaq advanced 1.4 per cent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.5 per cent, snapping a three-session losing streak

IG Australia market analyst Tony Sycamore said US shares had proved more resilient in the first three weeks of 2024 compared to local shares

“US stocks are very resilient even though we’re seeing that Fed speakers are less dovish, and the data has been stronger-than-expected,” Mr Sycamore said.

While the Australian benchmark has lost 2.2 per cent since the start of January, its US counterpart, the Dow Jones, is just 0.7 per cent lower.

Mr Sycamore added that markets were becoming more bearish on the chances of an expected easing in monetary policy through 2024.

“When you look at the movement in markets this time last week, the US rates market was pricing in seven rate cuts … now we’re down to between five and six rate cuts,” he said.

Locally, 10 of 11 industry sectors finished in the green, led by tech stocks up 3 per cent.

Sector heavyweight Xero soared 4.8 per cent to $114.73, Wisetech advanced 2.9 per cent to $73.74 and Altium jumped 2.8 per cent to $48.22.

The big four banks all rose, led by Westpac up 1.5 per cent. Its three competitors finished between 0.7 per cent and 1.3 per cent higher.

Fintech stocks also ripped ahead. Buy-now-pay-later firm Zip Co surged 11.4 per cent to 64c while payment solutions provider EML Payments advanced 9.9 per cent to $1.

Materials stocks also recovered, rising 0.4 per cent, after four straight sessions in the red, tracking gains in the iron ore price, as investors grew increasingly hopeful of a fresh round of stimulus measures from Beijing.

Fortescue surged 2 per cent to $27.58, Rio Tinto added 0.9 per cent to $128.00 and BHP was flat at $45.73.

But elsewhere in the sector, uranium miners sustained losses with Boss Energy dropping 3.2 per cent to $5.40, Paladin Energy falling 2 per cent to $1.23, and Deep Yellow diving 6.1 per cent to $1.48.

In corporate news, biotech and medical research firm Mesoblast rocketed 13.2 per cent to 30c to be the bourse’s strongest performer after it gained approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for its cell therapy Revascor, designed to treat a rare pediatric heart condition.

The country’s largest independent coal miner, Whitehaven Coal, was one of the benchmark’s top gainers, rising 3.8 per cent to $8.11 after it posted an increase in quarterly production and said it would divest its stake in a mine bought from ASX-heavyweight BHP.

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