Australian shares are trading higher as investors shrugged off the potential economic impact of the coronavirus
Australian shares are trading higher as investors shrugged off the potential economic impact of the coronavirus, despite the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring the outbreak a global health emergency.
By 12:25pm (AEDT), the ASX 200 index was up by 0.5 per cent to 7,044 points, with every sector trading higher.
Healthcare and information technology were the best-performing sectors, boosted by Avita Medical (+6.6pc), Resmed (+4.6pc) and investment services provider Link Administration Holdings (+9.7pc).
Link’s share price surged on the announcement of its takeover of Pepper Group, a European non-bank lender, for up to 200 million euro ($322m).
Among the decliners, gold stocks were the weakest performers, including Gold Road Resources, Silver Lake Resources and Newcrest Mining, which were down between 2.2 and 4.5 per cent.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar touched its lowest value since early October, briefly sinking below 67 US cents overnight. It later lifted back to 67.2 US cents.
It had also dropped sharply against the UK’s sterling (-1.1pc), euro (-0.8pc) and Japanese yen (-0.9pc) at its worst.
In Europe, the British pound jumped after the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged at 0.75 per cent.
The local market is following a positive, but volatile, lead from Wall Street.
US markets were in the red, but erased all their losses in the last few minutes of trade — after WHO declared the global health emergency.
The Dow Jones closed 125 points higher (+0.4pc) after falling by as much as 244 points earlier in the session.
The benchmark S&P 500 and Nasdaq gained 0.3 per cent each, also rebounding from the worst of their losses.
This was despite the release of official figures showing that the US economy missed the Trump administration’s goal of 3 per cent growth for the second year in a row.
It was also America’s slowest annual growth in three years (in 2019) as the slump in business investment deepened due to its trade wars.
Gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.3 per cent last year, according to the US Commerce Department. It suggests the White House and Republicans’ massive $US1.5 trillion corporate tax cuts only provided the US economy with a temporary boost.
European markets ended their session lower with the benchmark indices of London, Frankfurt and Paris down 1.4 per cent each.
Brent crude dropped 1.7 per cent to $US58.78 per barrel on concerns that the coronavirus will lead to slower demand for oil from China.
Facebook plummeted by 6.1 per cent to $US209.53 per share after the social media company warned of slowing growth as its business matured, in addition to reporting a surge in quarterly expenses.
Meanwhile, spot gold lifted by 0.1 per cent to $US1, 578 an ounce as virus fears lingered on the minds of investors seeking safe haven assets.