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Highlights from the ASX 200’s best ever December quarter

Afterpay Limited (ASX:APT), Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG), and National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX:NAB) shares were final quarter highlights…
The post Highlights from the ASX 200’s best ever December quarter appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia. –

Young woman in yellow striped top with laptop raises arm in victory

Although the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) recorded a decline of 1.4% in 2020, it couldn’t stop the benchmark index from having the best quarter in its history.

Over the final three months of the year, the ASX 200 put on a stunning gain of 13.3%.

While a good number of shares had a strong final quarter, listed below are a few highlights from the period:

Big four bank shares surge higher.

One of the key drivers of the ASX 200’s impressive quarter was the banking sector. A sharp reduction in COVID-19 related loans deferrals, vaccine optimism, the easing of responsible lending rules, and APRA’s decision to remove dividend restrictions underpinned strong gains by the big four banks. Over the three months the Australia and New Zealand Banking GrpLtd (ASX: ANZ) share price rose 31.8%, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) share price jumped 29%, the National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) share price was up 27.3%, and the Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) share price rose 15%.

Iron ore miners rocket.

A surging iron ore price put a rocket under the iron ore miners during the final quarter. For example, the BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) share price climbed 19.2%, the Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) share price surged 43.7% higher, and the Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) share price pushed 20.7% higher. The price of the steel making ingredient hit multi-year highs amid supply issues in Brazil and robust demand in China. The latter is spending heavily on infrastructure to help it reignite its slowing economic growth.

Afterpay continues its ascent.

The Afterpay Limited (ASX: APT) share price was on form again in the fourth quarter of 2020 and broke its record high numerous times. Over the three months the Afterpay share price stormed 47.5% higher. This was driven by a number of factors including bullish broker notes, its inclusion in the ASX 20 and ASX 50 indices, and a strong trading update. In respect to the latter, Afterpay revealed that its global underlying sales reached $2.1 billion for the month of November. This was an increase of 112% from the $1 billion reported in November 2019. From this, the company generated $1 billion of underlying sales in the United States. This was the first time the company has achieved this level of sales during a single month in any market.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro owns shares of Westpac Banking. 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.

The post Highlights from the ASX 200’s best ever December quarter appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

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