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ASX 200 up 1.55%: ANZ & Westpac surge higher, Afterpay & Xero tumble

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At lunch on Thursday the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) is on course to record a very strong gain. The benchmark index is currently up 1.55% to 6,709.2 points.

Here’s what has been happening on the market today:

Bank shares higher.

The big four banks are back on form again on Thursday and are charging higher. This has given the ASX 200 index a major boost. The best performers are Australia and New Zealand Banking GrpLtd (ASX: ANZ) and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC), which have recorded gains of 4%. This follows a positive note out of Citi in the United States. According to the AFR, Citi’s US bank analysts have put conviction buy ratings on ANZ and Westpac’s shares. Citi expects the big four banks to resume paying out up to three-quarters of their profits as dividends.

Tech shares lower.

It has been a disappointing day for the tech sector on Thursday. At lunch the likes of Afterpay Ltd (ASX: APT) and Xero Limited (ASX: XRO) are tumbling lower and weighing heavily on the S&P ASX All Technology Index (ASX: XTX). So much so, the tech index is down 1.6% at the time of writing. This follows a weak session for the Nasdaq index on an otherwise positive night of trade on Wall Street. The Nasdaq index fell 0.6% overnight, whereas the Dow Jones jumped 1.45%.

ASX Ltd update.

The ASX Ltd (ASX: ASX) share price is edging lower following the release of its activity report for December and calendar year 2020. During the month of December, the stock exchange operator saw the average daily number of Cash Market trades fall 6% compared to the prior corresponding period. However, the average daily value traded on-market was 22% higher than the prior corresponding period at $5.6 billion.

Best and worst performers.

The best performer on the ASX 200 on Thursday has been the Oil Search Ltd (ASX: OSH) share price with a gain of 6.5%. This follows a solid rise in oil prices this week. The worst performer has been the Xero share price with a 4.5% decline. This is being driven by weakness in the tech sector today.

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James Mickleboro owns shares of Westpac Banking. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of Xero. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of AFTERPAY T FPO. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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