— Finance

ASX makes strong start to June quarter, tech stocks top performers

TODAY, the ASX staged a positive start to the new quarter, with tech stocks like Zip Co racking up decent gains while lithium miners also gained ground.

The Australian share market climbed higher for the second straight day, with tech stocks taking a positive lead from Wall Street while lithium miners responded to an announcement by US President Joe Biden. The S&P/ASX200 added 0.56 percent at 6828.7 while the All Ordinaries Index lifted 0.67 percent to 7064.2.

CommSec analyst Steve Daghlian said it was a decent start to the first day of the June quarter, but much of trade was choppy and cautious.

“Yesterday, the Aussie market wrapped up what was the sixth straight month of gains … we were up about 3 percent in the March quarter, so it has been a robust start to 2021 so far,” Mr. Daghlian said.

OpenMarkets Group chief executive Ivan Tchourilov said the tech sector was the strongest performer on Thursday after Nasdaq led the charge on US markets overnight off the back of President Biden, unveiling more details of his $US1.9 trillion stimulus package.

Buy-now-pay-later market leader Afterpay put on 3.96 percent to $105.52, more miniature rival Zip Co rose 4.61 percent to $7.72, and accounting software provider Xero advanced 3.43 percent to $130.87.

President Biden announced a record $US176bn would go towards electric vehicle investment to create a nationwide charging network by 2030, boosting the resources sector, especially lithium and battery-related stocks, Mr. Tchourilov said.

Galaxy Resources jumped 7.12 percent to $2.71, while fellow lithium miner Pilbara Minerals gained 3.83 percent to $1.08. Rio Tinto appreciated 1.13 percent to $112, BHP added 0.77 percent to $46.65, and Fortescue lifted 1.3 percent to $20.25.

Building products supplier Boral jumped 6.74 percent to $5.86 after announcing the completion of the sale of its 50 percent stake in the USG Boral joint venture to Gebr Knauf KG, with the $1.33bn proceeds partly earmarked for reducing debt.

Boral also revealed it would also use the proceeds to undertake an on-market share buy-back of up to 10 percent of its shares on the issue over the next 12 months.

AMP announced chief executive Francesco De Ferrari was stepping away from the embattled wealth giant, and ANZ deputy chief executive Alexis George would become his successor sometime during the third quarter of this year.

Mr. De Ferrari was appointed in December 2018 to overhaul AMP after damning findings from the royal banking commission. Still, the group was rocked by further scandal last year after it emerged executive Boe Pahari had been promoted despite being penalized for an earlier sexual harassment incident.

Also, flagged deals with global asset manager Ares Management Corporation, which abandoned a complete takeover of AMP, have so far failed to transpire. Shares in AMP appreciated 4.74 percent to $1.32.

Despite Brisbane’s snap three-day lockdown ending, with Queensland recording just one more locally-acquired COVID-19 case, travel stocks were mostly lower.

Webjet declined 5.38 percent to $5.28 after providing details of a convertible notes offering, Flight Centre backtracked 0.56 percent to $17.89, Qantas eased 0.2 percent to $5.10, and Corporate Travel Management retreated 0.56 percent to $19.50.

“They (travel stocks) already improved yesterday, so they’re mostly just coming off the boil,” Mr. Daghlian said. Airline Regional Express, however, gained 4.39 percent to $1.54.

Macquarie Group got into trouble with the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, which has compelled it to hold an extra $500m in operating cash after committing multiple material breaches of prudential and reporting standards relating to liquidity between 2018 and 2020.

Gemma Broadhurst
Gemma Broadhurst is a 23-year-old computing student who enjoys extreme ironing, hockey and duck herding. She is kind and entertaining, but can also be very standoffish and a bit evil.She is an Australian Christian. She is currently at college. studying computing. She is allergic to milk. She has a severe phobia of chickens

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