Aussie stocks gain second day of growth since virus crisis began
For the first time since the coronavirus crisis began, Australian shares have gained for two straight days, rallying in the final minutes of trade on reports that US politicians have reached a deal on a massive US stimulus deal to shore up the world's biggest economy.
The S&P/ASX200 powered almost six per cent in early trade, faded before noon and then gained 153 points in the last 15 minutes of the day to close Wednesday up 262.4 points or 5.54 per cent, to 4,998.1.
The All Ordinaries index finished up 252.9 points, or 5.32 per cent, higher at 5,006.2.
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The Australian dollar was buying over 60 US cents for the first time in a week, trading at 60.07 US cents, up from 59.39 US as the market closed on Tuesday.
But Australia's economic woes are far from over.
Scenes of thousands of people queuing at Centrelink offices around the country have underscored the seriousness of the issue.
Economists predict 814,000 Australians will be added to dole queues before the end of June.
Centrelink is rapidly recruiting an extra 5000 staff to deal with the influx of demand.
But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says while the Centrelink queues are heartbreaking, the alternative is worse.
"What we don't want is queues for people who need a machine to help them breathe. We cannot have people queuing for intensive care beds. That will mean they will die," he said in Melbourne on Wednesday.
"We've got to buy time ... if you can stay home, you must stay home. No dinner party, no shopping trip is worth a life."
Officials are battling to stop the spread of the coronavirus and prevent the nation's health system becoming overloaded.
The number of cases in Australia rose again overnight, with 2252 people now having caught the disease.
Of those with the virus, 197 people are in hospital with 17 in intensive care. Eight people have died.
Nearly 163,000 people have been tested so far.
© AAP 2020