ASX filled with festive cheer as markets shrug off COVID Christmas scare

Despite a last-minute COVID scare, Australian shareholders are feeling cautiously festive, with the ASX 200 closing in positive territory on Christmas Eve.

Mining giant BHP Group climbed as it confirmed it had met licensing requirements to restart operations and had begun iron ore pellet production at its Samarco joint venture with Brazil's Vale SA.

After an investigation by the financial crimes regulator AUSTRAC, in Septemberthe bank agreed to pay the largest fine in Australian corporate history — a $1.3 billion civil penalty.

Notable movers include BigPharma stock Pfizer, which gained 1.9 per cent on news it will supply the US with 100 million extra doses of its COVID-19 vaccine by July.

Some markets across the continent experienced their worst trade in months earlier in the week, with the region rocked by another outbreak of COVID-19 in England that saw its borders closed off.

The drawn-out process to split Britain from Europe has been going on for years and it is hoped that current talks between the EU and the nation will finally give some certainty.

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