(Australian Associated Press)
Australian stocks have finished higher for a second day but could not sustain a move above 7,000 as the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in China neared 500.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed Wednesday up 27.4 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 6,976.1, while the broader All Ordinaries index lifted 33.3 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 7,080.9.
“We had a very positive day of trade, the second day of recovery,” said Bell Direct market analyst Jessica Amir.
Beaten-down lithium miners surged after Panasonic announced its joint venture with Tesla had made its first-ever quarterly profit.
Orocobre soared 19 per cent, Galaxy Resources rose 17.7 per cent and Pilbara Minerals climbed 11.3 per cent.
The tech sector was the biggest gainer, up 2.0 per cent, in a day in which bond prices fell.
WiseTech Global gained 9.0 per cent, Appen rose 3.8 per cent, Nearmap was up 7.4 per cent and Technology One rose 6.3 per cent.
Afterpay broke through the $40 mark for the first time, reaching an all-time high of $40.73, before closing at $39.20.
In the healthcare sector, CSL also hit an all-time high, clearing $320 for the first time ever and reaching $321.22 before closing up $2.29, or 0.7 per cent, at $315.64.
The mining sector saw the second-biggest gains, rising 1.0 per cent as BHP gained 1.5 per cent to $38.89 and Rio Tinto climbed 1.1 per cent to $98.43.
Goldminers were down however as the price of the precious metal retreated from its recent high to around $US1,560 an ounce.
Newcrest dipped 0.9 per cent, Evolution slipped 1.9 per cent and Northern Star dropped 1.5 per cent.
The big banks were mixed, with Commonwealth dropping 1.2 per cent to $83.28 and Westpac down 0.3 per cent to $24.73.
But ANZ climbed 0.6 per cent to $25.82 while NAB rose one cent to $25.61.
CIMIC climbed 9.8 per cent to $30.98 after the international contractor announced a new chief executive and a full-year $1 billion loss driven by its decision to exit the Middle East market.
Perenti Global shares lifted 5.0 per cent to $1.48 after confirming it was thinking about buying Downer EDI’s mining servicing business. Downer shares rose 0.4 per cent to $7.29.
Betmakers soared 56.3 per cent to a two-year high of 37.5 cents after signing an exclusive deal to manage horseracing odds in the US state of New Jersey.
The Australian dollar meanwhile was buying 67.36 US cents, up from 67.18 US cents on Tuesday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished up 27.4 points, or 0.39 per cent, at 6,976.1 points.
* The All Ordinaries closed up 33.3 points, or 0.47 per cent, at 7,080.9 points.
* At 1725 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down two points, or 0.03 per cent, at 6,906 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 67.16 US cents, from 67.16 US cents on Tuesday
* 73.75 Japanese yen, from 73.07 yen
* 61.06 euro cents, from 60.73 cents
* 51.76 British pence, from 51.60 pence
* 103.97 NZ cents, from 103.86 cents.