The bulls were smiling after booking their third weekly gains over a four week period, even though the market slipped from the 7,000 handle on Friday.
At the closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index slid -3.6 points, or +0.05%, to 6,995.2, while the All Ordinaries eked out +2 points, or +0.03%, to 7,252.3, and remains within arm’s reach of its all-time peak of 7289.7 points.
The benchmark index had hit a fresh 13-month just yesterday as it breached 7,000 for the first time since 24 February last year.
A sharp rally in local technology stocks on Tuesday helped the market to a strong start from the Easter long weekend break.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) left its easy policy settings on hold at the April meeting on Tuesday and reiterated that monetary conditions would remain highly supportive.
By Wednesday’s closing bell, the Australian market was at a 13-month high.
However, the bullish momentum subsided on Thursday after Prime Minister Scott Morrison put the AstraZeneca vaccine on ice for Australians under 50, linked to rare but potentially fatal blood clots.
Meanwhile, on Friday, Mr Morrison said a further 20 million Pfizer vaccines were secured and would arrive in Australia by December 31.
The ASX 200 sectors were mixed to the close on Friday, with Information Technology rising +0.72 while Staples fell -1.10%.
Materials slipped into the red, with BHP Group dragging the titans lower after falling -0.83% to $46.67, while Fortescue Metals Group dropped -0.52% to $20.89 and Rio Tinto Limited lost -0.33%, to $115.50.
Gold miners continued to shine, with Newcrest Mining adding +1.06%, to $26.70, Northern Star Resources rose +1.11%, to $10.90, and Evolution Mining Ltd added +2.46%, to $4.59.
As for our oil and gas producers, Woodside Petroleum lost -0.57%, to $24.32, while Oil Search fell -0.48%, to $4.11, Origin Energy dropped -0.63%, to $4.74, Santos lost -0.98%, to $7.07, and Worley ended to a -1.4% loss of $10.60.
Telstra finished flat at $3.43, while Woolworths lost -1.27%, to $41.23, Wesfarmers added +0.48%, to $54.17, QBE Insurance lost -1.51%, to $9.78, and Aristocrat Leisure rose +0.27%, to $36.79.
The Financial sector was mixed, with National Australia Bank leading the “Fab Four” (banks) higher by +0.34%, to $26.72, while Westpac Banking Corp added +0.2%, to $25.21, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group ended flat at $28.74, Commonwealth Bank eked out a +0.01%, to $87.13 and Macquarie Group rose +0.77% and settled at $154.80.
Buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay climbed +1.22%, to $121.47, accounting software provider Xero added +1.51%, $138.90, and EML Payments added +0.35% and settled at $5.75.
Travel and tourism companies fell as potential delays to Australia’s vaccination program cast a shadow over with Helloworld dropping -2.29%, to $2.13, Corporate Travel Management -2.95%, to $18.77, Webjet fell -2.53%, to $5.40, and Flight Centre tumbled -2.7%, to $18.42.
Qantas edged up +0.55% to $5.45, and Air New Zealand’s ASX-traded shares added +2.1% to $1.69.
Real estate shares remained firm, with Charter Hall rising +1.28%, to $13.47, Lendlease rose +0.22%, to $13.38, and Goodman Group added +1.57% to $18.79.
Healthcare sector fell -0.82%, with Biotechnology giant CSL falling -0.96%, to $263.40, while ResMed fell -0.05%, to $25.97, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare ended eking out +0.05%, to $30.96, while Cochlear fell -0.95%, to $216.52 and Mesoblast slid -0.04%, to $2.23.
Our local currency, the Australian dollar, is currently buying US$0.7622 (as of writing).