Australian share index soars as virus infections slow

A worker cleans the waterfront area of the Sydney Opera House March 26, 2020. — Reuters pic
A worker cleans the waterfront area of the Sydney Opera House March 26, 2020. — Reuters pic

SYDNEY, March 30 — Australian stocks enjoyed their biggest one-day gain ever today as the rate of new virus infections slowed and the government unveiled fresh stimulus measures to support the struggling economy.

The ASX 200 surged 7.0 per cent, or 339.00 points, to 5,181.4o, while the broader All Ordinaries rallied 6.56 per cent, or 319.80 points, to 5,194.00, its strongest day since 1980.

The performance contrasted with general weakness in other Asian markets, and reflects optimism around the trending of new coronavirus infections in Australia, which rose just 5.6 per cent from yesterday to today, according to data compiled by AFP.

The rate of new infections has been falling since March 22 as federal and state governments have ramped up restrictions on movement to choke off the spread of the disease.

Analysts said investors were also buoyed by continued government action to counter the economic impact of the shutdowns, including an A$130 billion (RM346.7 billion) income support plan unveiled after the close of trade today but widely expected.

The plan brought total government spending on protection from the outbreak to A$320 billion, which is more than 16 per cent of gross domestic product.

The government’s last annual budget, released in April 2019, called for total spending in the 2019-2020 fiscal year of US$500 billion. — AFP

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