Australian sharemarket higher as Afterpay shares hit record

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Australian sharemarket higher as Afterpay shares hit record

The Australian sharemarket shrugged off a weak lead from Wall Street to close in the green, with shares in Afterpay reaching record highs.

The S&P/ASX200 finished 0.26 per cent firmer at 6660.2 while the All Ordinaries Index appreciated 0.2 per cent to 6900.3.

CommSec analyst James Tao said buy-now-pay-later provider Afterpay was a standout performer, jumping 8.83 per cent to a record close of $109.93 after confirmation it would be added to the S&P/ASX20 index on December 21.

“Financials are also having a very strong start to the week,” Mr Tao said.

ANZ put on 1.05 per cent to $23.18, Commonwealth Bank rose 1.86 per cent to $83.92, National Australia Bank lifted 0.94 per cent to $23.55 and Westpac found 0.4 per cent to $20.03.

Camera IconBuy now pay later market leader Afterpay has made it into the top 20. Credit: AAP, Derek Rose/AAP

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced it will not oppose IOOF’s proposed acquisition of MLC Wealth Management, owned by NAB.

IOOF shares added 2.76 per cent to $3.73.

Consumer staples were higher, with Coles appreciating 1.11 per cent to $18.18 and Woolworths gaining 0.67 per cent to $39.17.

Salmon farmer Tassal Group was also strong, up 5.8 per cent at $3.65.

Energy stocks were mixed after the oil price softened, with Santos losing 1.65 per cent to $6.57, Oil Search lifting 0.54 per cent to $3.75, Origin inching 0.2 per cent higher to $5.05 and Woodside Petroleum easing 0.52 per cent to $23.19.

Iron ore miners were weaker amid reports the China Iron and Steel Association had called for intervention in pricing, with the steelmaking commodity at nine-year highs.

Rio Tinto shed 1.78 per cent to $113.94, BHP slipped 0.19 per cent to $42.74 and Fortescue dropped 3.44 per cent to $22.16.

Mr Tao said the health sector was led lower by CSL, down 1.73 per cent to $286.50 after announcing on Friday its COVID-19 vaccine trial with University of Queensland would not proceed to the next stage.

Hearing aid company Cochlear retreated 1.91 per cent to $195.72 and stem cell research firm Mesoblast backtracked 1.3 per cent to $4.54.

Travel stocks were lower, with Corporate Travel Management losing 3.3 per cent to $19.03, Qantas dipping 0.59 per cent to $5.07 and Flight Centre giving up 2.09 per cent to $16.43.

Car dealership group Eagars Automotive announced it had inked a deal to sell its Daimler truck business to a privately owned operator of commercial truck dealerships in the US, sending its shares 5.1 per cent higher to $14.22.

The Aussie dollar was buying 75.51 US cents, 56.61 British pence and 62.15 Euro cents in afternoon trade.

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