SEARCH

Australian shares end firmer on tech boost, U.S. stimulus prospects

14 Jan 2021 / 14:28 H.

Australian shares ended higher on Thursday, as investors took cues from an upbeat Wall Street session on U.S. stimulus prospects, with gains powered by domestic tech sector as buy-now-pay-later giant Afterpay surged around 10%.

The S&P/ASX 200 index extended gains to a second session, ending 0.43% higher at 6,715.3 points.

"I haven't seen much in the way of huge impactful news, so the markets are happy to follow a relatively okay U.S. session," said Nick Twidale, chief executive officer of APAC, FP Markets.

Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index closed slightly higher on Wednesday, as investors waited for details of the next U.S. fiscal stimulus plan and as Congress began President Donald Trump's impeachment hearings.

"I would classify it as hopefully bullish," Twidale said.

Back home, tech stocks were the stand-outs of the session on Thursday, closing 4.7% higher after three straight days of losses.

Afterpay led gains in the sector after Morgan Stanley raised its price target by over 13%, on expectations that it would continue building a global BNPL platform in 2021.

Also driving Australian BNPLs higher was the stellar Nasdaq debut of Affirm Holdings, which ended its first day with a valuation of more than $23 bln.

Twidale expects technology stocks to continue to benefit as long as the investors remain in risk-on mode, as the market looks to move back to normalization in 2021.

Financials climbed 0.8%, with the so-called "Big Four" banks adding between 0.4% and 1.9%.

On the downside, gold stocks and miners lost 1.5% and 0.8%, respectively, brought down by falling gold prices as U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar rebounded.

Energy stocks closed 0.3% lower, tracking a dip in oil prices, but a nearly 3% jump in Whitehaven Coal's shares after a 29% surge in the coal miner's quarterly output limited losses in the sub-index.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slid 0.03% to finish flat. - Reuters

email blast