It was another mixed session on the Australian sharemarket as financial, and health shares offset losses in materials and energy.
The index overcame a weak start and managed to rise for the second day, with the finishing bell on Thursday viewing the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closing higher by +28.74 points, or +0.43%, to 6,715.3.
The All Ordinaries closed higher by +28.8 points, or +0.41%, at 6,982.7.
The local market lost as much as -17 points earlier in the session, with Afterpay soaring +9.74%, to $121.00 and rival Zip Co rose +4.95%, to $5.72 in a buy now, pay later rally, while the big banks also helped the turnaround.
Wall Street also lacked any direction as political uncertainty continues to engulf Washington as Congress began President Donald Trump’s impeachment hearings.
Just over a year ago, the House of Representatives impeached Trump the first time without a single Republican vote.
This time around, in a historic vote, the House of Representatives on Wednesday made Donald Trump the first U.S. president ever to be impeached twice, formally charging him with inciting an insurrection just a week after a violent mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol.
It marked the first time in the 231-year history of the United States that a president has been impeached twice in his term.
The impeachment article, for “incitement of insurrection,” was adopted by the Democratic-controlled House, 232 to 197, after several hours of debate.
A group of 10 Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach Trump.
Trump will be tried in the Senate, which may not even convene until Jan. 19, one day before leaving office.
The Financial sector continued to keep the index above the waterline with Westpac Banking Corp leading the “Fab Four” (banks) higher by +2.09%, to $21.03, with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group adding +1.82%, to $24.60, National Australia Bank rose +1.28%, to $23.78, Commonwealth Bank gained +0.42%, to $86.33, and Macquarie Group added +0.98% and settled at $138.30.
Health stocks were also strong, even with biotechnology giant CSL slipping -0.01%, to $271.00, while ResMed gained +0.68%, to $28.09, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose +0.74%, to $30.00, while Cochlear gained +4.85%, to $189.46, Ramsay Health added +1.41%, to $59.54 and Mesoblast climbed +3.28%, to $2.44.
Pro Medicus was the market’s best performer on Thursday with a +15%, gain to $36.53 after it secured a $40 million deal with U.S. firm Intermountain to roll out its imaging platform at 24 hospitals an 200 clinics.
Our major local miners struggled to capture its bullish charm with Fortescue Metals Group leading the titans lower after falling -1.63% to $24.76, while Rio Tinto slipped -0.89%, to $119.66, BHP Group dipped -0.35%, to $46.06, South32 ended flat at $2.71, Mineral Resources gained +0.26%, to $39.02.
Gold resources struggled to advance with Newcrest Mining falling -1.04%, to $26.68, Northern Star Resources lost -1.68%, to $12.84, Westgold slipped -2.8%, to $2.43.
As for our oil and gas producers, Woodside lost -0.26%, to $26.61, Oil Search lost -0.9%, to $4.40, Origin Energy fell -0.19%, to $5.15, AGL Energy rallied +0.99%, to $12.19 and Santos slipped -0.13%, to $7.50.
Travel stocks rallied with Webjet advancing +2.28%, to $4.93 and Flight Centre rose +1.05%, to $15.33, Qantas ended flat at $4.80 and Regional Express slid -0.27%, to $1.875.
Abacus Property Group fell -4.48%, to $2.77 as it traded without its dividend.
Meanwhile, our local currency, the Australian dollar is currently buying US$0.7762 (as of writing).