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ASX 200 morning report – MFG, SUN & ASX travel shares in focus

The tanking oil price has offered relief to the share market but will likely take some time to spread into the price of fuel, with the S&P/ASX 200 (ASX: XJO) gaining 1.1% on Wednesday.

The rally was widespread with every sector finishing higher but energy naturally the worst, gaining just 0.2%.

Hopes that interest rates will rise more slowly than expected this week supported the ASX technology sector, which gained 3.6% behind a 6.9% jump in the Block Inc (ASX: SQ2) share price.

The consumer sectors were also well supported, with both discretionary and non-discretionary groups adding 1.9%.

ASX travel shares take off

The trigger was the announcement that New Zealand will open its border to Australian tourists sooner than expected, with the likes of Corporate Travel Management Ltd (ASX: CTD) and Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) gaining 5.3% and 2.2% each.

This comes after the ABS announced that 272,000 tourists entered Australia in February, the highest since before March 2020.

The hope of a return of tourists also boosted retail property with Vicinity Centres (ASX: VCX) gaining 2.8%.

Elsewhere, shares in takeover target Uniti Group Ltd (ASX: UWL) were 1.3% lower despite JP Morgan suggesting this could be the beginning of a bidding war.

Magellan share price supported by share buyback 

Shares in Magellan Financial Group Ltd (ASX: MFG) were close to 4% higher following the commencement of an on-market share buyback for 10 million shares.

The decision is typically reflective of a board seeking to both support the share price but also seeing shares in their own company as undervalued and hence a sound use of capital.

Small battery players gain on grants

Smaller battery mineral players including Australian Vanadium Ltd (ASX: AVL) and Arafura Resources Limited (ASX: ARU) gained 40% and 15%, respectively, after the Federal Government announced $243 million in grants to companies with projects that would support Australia’s priority to become a leader in battery technology amid a boom in electric vehicles.

Suncorp increases loss estimates

Suncorp Group Ltd (ASX: SUN) shares gained slightly despite increasing its estimate of natural disaster costs to $1.1 billion with management highlighting the benefits of digital processing of claims and the ability to make goods more quickly. The group has received more than 34,000 claims as of 14 March.

EML expands in Europe

EML Payments Ltd (ASX: EML) shares gained 2.6% after signing a multi-year deal to expand into the employee benefits market in Europe and whilst the agreement is not material, management highlighted this as an important starting point for its expansion.

ASX 200 today

Looking ahead, the ASX 200 is set to push higher this morning, following a strong positive lead from US stock markets overnight. The tech-heavy Nasdaq led the way, soaring 3.8%. To find out more, check out my US stock market report.

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Disclosure: At the time of publishing, Drew owns shares in Magellan.