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ASX kicks back as global markets continue their daily movements

The Australian share market kicks off a holiday-shortened week with modest gains, with Discretionary, Information Technology and Materials offsetting Financials.

At the closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index climbed +24.3 points, or +0.36%, to 6,824.7 and remained closely near the 11-month high, while the All Ordinaries closed higher +32.5 points, or +0.46%, at 7,111.4.

With Australian share market absent (closed) in observance of Australia Day, the global market prepares to kick-off to its busiest week for fourth-quarter earnings season, like Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Tesla, and Amazon.

Wall Street had a generally positive week as President Joe Biden now in the White House takes the reins of a national effort to vaccinate most Americans.

He has pledged to have the country administer 100 million doses of the vaccines within the first 100 days of his presidency.

However, a growing number of Republicans have expressed doubts over the need for another stimulus bill, especially one with a price tag of $1.9 trillion proposed by Biden.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has criticized the size of the latest round of proposed stimulus checks.

Dissent from either party carries weight for Biden, who took office with a slim majority in Congress.

Investors are also concerned that impeachment proceedings in the Senate against former President Donald Trump may delay Biden’s fiscal stimulus bill.

Senate leaders on Friday announced Donald Trump’s impeachment trial would begin on February 9.

The House voted to impeach Trump, for a second time, alleging that the 45th president incited a mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

U.S. speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday that the House still plans to send over the impeachment article, alleging “incitement of insurrection,” on Monday.

That “exhibition” would normally lead to the formal commencement of the trial within a day, but Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the chamber would then pause until the week of February 8 to give prosecution and defence time to prepare, while also allowing Biden to get his people confirmed and make headway on the COVID relief bill.

Separately, former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s nomination for Treasury Secretary, becoming the first woman to hold that position, scored unanimous consent by the Senate Finance Committee and was expected to be confirmed by the full Senate.

Gains in iron ore miners, offset the banks as they limped over the finish line.

The materials sector advanced, with Fortescue Metals Group led the titans higher after surging +4.03% to $25.30, Rio Tinto added +2.05% to $121.77 BHP Group rallied +1.06%, to $46.62.

The Financial sector slid in the late afternoon reversing fresh gains with National Australia Bank eking out +0.04%, to $24.13, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose +0.16%, to $24.68, Commonwealth Bank added +0.21%, to $85.27, Westpac Banking Corp edged +0.05%, to $21.78, and Macquarie Group slid -0.01% and settled at $137.08.

Healthcare sector put in a firmer performance with Fisher & Paykel adding +1.26%, to $32.91.

Biotechnology giant CSL rose +0.34%, to $275.54, while ResMed ended flat at $27.90, Cochlear gained +0.55%, to $198.98, Ramsay Health gained +1%, to $63.33 and Mesoblast lost -0.82%, to $2.41.

For our oil and gas producers, Woodside shares slid -0.87%, to $26.33, Oil Search fell -1.15%, to $4.30, Origin Energy dropped -1.96%, to $5.01, AGL Energy declined -1.1%, to $11.65.

Gold resources displayed a modest rebound with Newcrest Mining lost -1.57%, to $26.34, Northern Star Resources dropped -1.49%, to $13.23, Saracen Mineral fell -1.97%, to $4.97.

Travel stocks rallied with Webjet dropped -3.83%, to $4.77 and Flight Centre lost -3.33%, to $15.10, Qantas dropped -1.65%, to $4.77 and Regional Express fell -1.92%, to $1.79.

Meanwhile, our local currency, the Australian dollar is currently buying US$0.7728 (as of writing).