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Why these 4 ASX shares are ending the week with HUGE gains

It hasn’t been a great end to the short week for the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO). In afternoon trade the benchmark index is down 0.8% to 5,885 points due largely to heavy declines in the materials sector.

But that hasn’t stopped a number of shares from climbing higher today. Four which stood out with notably strong gains are listed below. Here’s why they are finishing the week strongly:

The Afterpay Holdings Ltd (ASX: AFY) share price has jumped almost 7% to $2.34 after the payments company reported another solid quarter of growth. According to the release fees from retailers grew an impressive 40% quarter-on-quarter to $6 million. Furthermore, the number of retailers using its service grew to 3,500 from 2,000 in the last quarter. Afterpay is clearly an exciting company, but its shares do come at a huge premium.

The Independence Group NL (ASX: IGO) share price is up almost 3% to $3.71. Today’s gain is likely to be attributable to a research note out of the Macquarie equities desk. According to the note Macquarie’s analysts have upgraded Independence to an outperform rating with a $4.10 price target following a production upgrade at the company’s Nova mine.

The Northern Star Resources Ltd (ASX: NST) share price has jumped almost 5% to $4.77 thanks to a rise in the spot gold price overnight. Concerns over rising tensions in Syria and North Korea and a weaker U.S. dollar have sent the spot gold price up to US$1,286 an ounce. This is the highest level gold has traded at since early November.

The Touchcorp Ltd (ASX: TCH) share price has rocketed 8.5% to $1.43 today. As well as receiving a boost from Afterpay’s update, Touchcorp announced today that it had received a confidential, conditional, and unsolicited expression of interest to acquire its operating assets, excluding surplus cash and its shareholding in Afterpay. The board has determined that it does not constitute a superior proposal and plan to push ahead with its merger with Afterpay.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.