Gains for healthcare stocks and the beaten-up mining titans on Wednesday helped the Australian sharemarket stem the bleed and prevent a fourth straight decline.
The benchmark ASX 200 had been on a hiding to nothing, with inflation fears and Chinese coronavirus lockdowns fuelling losses in six of the past seven sessions, wiping 4.8 per cent from the market since Friday alone.
But the very same mining companies savaged by the forecast drop in Chinese demand bounced back strongly, helping the index rise 13.5 points or 0.2 per cent to a close of 7064.7.
The wider All Ordinaries rose 0.3 per cent to 7304.4 and the Australian dollar was steady near 69.70 US cents.
The lead from Wall Street was inconclusive as recession fears and lower oil prices seemed to weigh on value stocks, while the buy-the-dip traders piled back into growth as longer-dated US yields headed lower.
However, a strong outperformance by Chinese stock markets helped US futures rise late in the Australian session.
OANDA Asia-Pacific senior analyst Jeffrey Halley said a benign inflation landscape in China hinted at potential stimulus boost.
“In the context of the inflation landscape elsewhere in the world, China is in a very sweet spot at the moment; markets today are pricing that it gives China’s Government room to unleash some juicy stimulus GFC-style,” Mr Halley said.
“Of course, what the market wants and what the market gets are often two different things, especially where the Chinese Government are concerned.
“Even opening the taps now would be of limited impact if workers can’t leave lockdown to build roads or go back to factories.”
Commodity prices may have tumbled again but this did not weigh on the local resources sector as much it has in recent sessions.
BHP bounced back from a series of brutal losses with a 1.4 per cent rise to $45.66, while Rio Tinto climbed 2.6 per cent to $105.64, and Fortescue Metals rose 2.3 per cent to $19.55, even after iron ore fell below $US130 a tonne.
Lithium player Mineral Resources gained 2.9 per cent to $54.26 and Pilbara Minerals added 3.6 per cent to $2.62, and there was also a 2.7 per cent rise for Allkem to $11.25. Rare earths miner Lynas rose 3.9 per cent to $8.70.
Weaker oil prices may have weighed Woodside Petroleum 0.8 per cent down to $30.53, but losses across the energy sector were limited by a 2.2 per cent gain for Beach Energy to $1.645 and a 0.4 per cent rise for Santos to $7.97.
The big banks proved a major weak spot, with an ex-dividend NAB falling 3.9 per cent to $30.53.
Commonwealth Bank lost 0.2 per cent to $101.51, ANZ fell 1.5 per cent to $25.40 and Westpac was 1.6 per cent lower at $24.25.
That said, Macquarie Group managed a 1.2 per cent improvement to $182.12.
CSL also had a strong session with a 2.1 per cent gain to $276.22 lifting the healthcare sector.
Sonic Healthcare rose 1.3 per cent to $35.24, Cochlear was up 1.9 per cent to $214.38 and Resmed finished 2 per cent higher at $28.42.
Tech shares may have gained in the US, but it was a mixed session for the local contingent.
There were gains for Wisetech Global, Appen and Altium, but losses for Xero, Block Inc and rival buy now, pay later firm Zip Co.
The heaviest loss of the day was reserved for Link Admin Holdings, which fell 15.1 per cent to $4.22 after an early plunge and mysterious trading pause.