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‘Business as usual’: ASX climbs for third week despite virus threat

Australian shares eased into the long weekend on Friday, brushing aside ongoing concern with the coronavirus outbreak in China to post modest gains for the session.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 rose 2.5 points, or less than 0.1 per cent, to close at 7090.5, recovering some of the ground lost on Thursday following the release of December’s better-than-expected local jobs report, which also lengthened the odds of a near-term RBA interest rate cut.

The ASX managed to climb for third consecutive week despite uncertainty caused by China's coronavirus outbreak.

The ASX managed to climb for third consecutive week despite uncertainty caused by China’s coronavirus outbreak.Credit:Brendon Thorne

For the week, the benchmark index increased 0.4 per cent, extending the local market’s bull run since early January. The resilient performance on Friday came despite reports of more coronavirus cases in China and an increase in the death toll.

“Investors should be alarmed but not panic just yet,” said Diana Mousina, senior economist at AMP Capital. “While it is impossible to know exactly how much more the virus can spread, most epidemics have taken six to 18 months to run their course before the actions taken by authorities start having an impact.”

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