Banks and energy lift Aust market higher

James Hall
(Australian Associated Press)


The Australian share market has closed higher, buoyed by a surge in banking and energy stocks as trade tensions ease and investors cash in on cheaper shares.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 77.6 points, or 1.39 per cent, at 5653.5 on Wednesday, while the broader All Ordinaries rose 1.35 per cent.

Risk appetite got a boost on Wednesday after US President Donald Trump said trade talks with Beijing were already underway, with more meetings likely among US and Chinese officials.

Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston said the “crazy cheap” position of the market combined with this easing of hostility was attractive to buyers.

“That has given us some belief that perhaps they can converge and maybe we can realise some of this value that’s on offer and have some confidence that the earnings (on the market) is correct,” he told AAP.

Higher oil prices also helped the energy stocks to a sector-wide rise of more than two per cent, with Origin up 3.6 per cent to $7.11, while Caltex, Woodside and Oil Search rose between 1.8 and 2.3 per cent.

The financials were lower early but rose consistently throughout the day to record a two per cent gain.

Commonwealth Bank was 2.4 per cent stronger at $70.08, while NAB and ANZ were both 1.7 per cent higher.

Westpac was the weakest of the big four lenders but still rose 1.6 per cent to $25.47 despite shareholders handing the bank a first strike on executive pay in protest over bonus cuts they say did not go far enough.

The major miners were also buoyant following another rise in copper prices, BHP rose 1.5 per cent to $32.19 and Rio Tinto up 1.7 per cent to $74.10.

South32 and BlueScope were up 2.9 per cent and 4.7 per cent.

Precious metal prices were largely unchanged but gold miners were weaker, with St Barbara and Regis losing 3.7 and 3.1 per cent.

Tech stocks had the strongest percentage lift, with Afterpay Touch, Altium, Xero and Computershare gaining between 3.2 and 5.5 per cent

Biotech CSL rose 1.3 per cent and ResMed continued its strong run to lift the healthcare sector with a gain of 1.3 per cent to $15.80.

Sonic Healthcare shares were in a halt for a capital raising to fund the $A750 million ($US540 million) acquisition of US pathology services firm Aurora Diagnostics, a deal it says will create one of the largest pathologist groups in the world.

Telcos were the only sector to close in the red, dragged down by Telstra’s 1.3 per cent drop to $3.03.

The Australian dollar edged higher with global equities as tentative signs of easing China-US trade tensions whetted risk appetite.

The Aussie was buying 72.13 US cents at 1630 AEDT, up from 72.04 US cents cents on Tuesday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 77.6 points, or 1.39 per cent, at 5653.5

* The All Ordinaries was up 76.1 points, or 1.35 per cent, at 5727.3

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up 62 points, or 1.11 per cent, at 5654


One Australian dollar buys:

* 72.13 US cents, from 72.04 US cents on Tuesday

* 81.82 Japanese yen, from 81.48

* 63.66 euro cents, from 63.38

* 57.65 British pence, from 57.26

* 104.76 NZ cents, from 104.72


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1244.7 per fine ounce, from $US1246.68 on Tuesday.


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