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Australian sharemarket closes slightly in the green, helped by energy stocks after blocked ship boosts oil price

Australian sharemarket closes slightly in the green, helped by energy stocks after blocked ship boosts oil price

The Australian sharemarket closed in the green, surging in the final moments of trade, with energy stocks helping as a container ship blocked passage through the Suez Canal, disputing oil supply.

The S&P/ASX200 firmed 0.17 per cent to 6790.6 while the All Ordinaries Index added 0.12 per cent to 7022.6.

OpenMarkets Group chief executive Ivan Tchourilov said Wall Street’s tech-heavy Nasdaq index was thumped overnight, closing just over 2 per cent weaker and leading the US market downhill.

Axi chief global market strategist Stephen Innes said positive European economic data assuaged some concerns about economic growth amid a resurgence in COVID-19 cases in multiple countries.

A possible vital contributing factor to the bounce-back was German leader Angela Merkel cancelling a stricter Easter lockdown restriction soon after the decision received widespread criticism, Mr Innes said.

After the ASX200 attempted a run at 6800 points, Mr Tchourilov said that level had proven to be a strong resistance point for the local bourse in recent months.

Energy stocks bounced back, with the oil price rising 5.9 per cent overnight — about the same amount it fell the previous day.

“An unlikely course of events has come to the rescue of the oil market in the form of a wayward vessel,” Mr Innes said.

“Oil rallied on the news of a giant ship blocking the Suez Canal, disrupting a primary supply chain conduit.”

Oil Search rose 0.48 per cent to $4.15, Santos lifted 0.28 per cent to $7.08 and Woodside Petroleum strengthened 0.33 per cent to $24.28.

The healthcare sector performed well, led by biotech giant CSL, which advanced 1.43 per cent to $269.83.

Retailer Premier Investments, which owns brands including Peter Alexander, Just Jeans and Smiggle, rose 4.6 per cent to $24.94 on the back of broker upgrades after posting a huge surge in half-year net profit on Wednesday.

But buy-now-pay-later stocks and the broader tech space significantly underperformed the market, Mr Tchourilov said.

Afterpay shed 1.9 per cent to $105.46 and Zip plunged 5.28 per cent to $7.53.

“Afterpay and Zip have now retraced over 45 per cent each since mid-February,” Mr Tchourilov said.

“Increased competition and rising bond yields have been the main contributing factors to the sell-off, with little sign of downward pressure easing anytime soon.”

After soaring on it first two days of trade, gig economy marketplace Airtasker plunged 22.86 per cent to $1.35.

Embattled financial services group AMP paused trading in its shares amid reports chief executive Francesco De Ferrari would resign and were last priced at $1.33, down 3.6 per cent.

Gold miner Resolute plummeted 26.19 per cent to 46.5 cents at market close after announcing on Wednesday the mining lease for its Bibiani mine in Ghana, which it plans to sell to Chifeng Jilong Gold Mining, had been terminated.

“This action is unexpected and Resolute is seeking clarification from the minister’s office for the rationale for the termination,” the miner said.

“Resolute is currently seeking legal advice on the validity of the notice, its rights of appeal and potential recourse while considering the impact of the notice on the sale agreement.”

The big four banks were mixed, with ANZ easing 0.36 per cent to $27.90, Commonwealth Bank adding 0.2 per cent to $86.54, National Australia Bank rising 0.5 per cent to $26.97 and Westpac softening 0.29 per cent to $24.12.

Rio Tinto gave up 1.55 per cent to $108 and BHP was unchanged at $44.88.

The Aussie dollar was fetching 75.95 US cents, 55.46 British pence and 64.24 Euro cents in afternoon trade.