ASX gains across the board on Fed comments

The Australian share market has risen for a second day, with gains across the board after US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell sent a strong signal overnight that the central bank was ready to cut interest rates.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 26.3 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 6,716.1 points at 1615 AEST on Thursday, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 28.1 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 6,805.8.

"I look across the market today, and we're only up half a percent, but it feels like a win," Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston told AAP not long before the market closed.

"We had a chance to roll over and buyers and stepped in."

Mr Weston attributed the gains to Mr Powell's testimony before Congress that the Fed was prepared to cut interest rates.

"This is a macro move," he said.

Equities are expensive, but with $12.5 trillion in bonds with negative yields on the global market, traders have no real alternative to shares, Mr Weston said, and the Australian market is offering good returns.

"We are in effect the Mecca of yield," he said. "There is no place out there that beats Australia. We are the Mack Daddy of yield."

Tech stocks were the biggest gainers on Thursday, up 1.4 per cent as a whole, with machine learning company Appen up 3.4 per cent to $30.45, circuit board design software company Altium up 4.2 per cent to $36.76 and Xero up 0.8 per cent to $63.96.

Another tech stock, Brisbane-based cloud computing company Data#3 Limited, soared 16.8 per cent to an all-time high of $2.50 after it said it expected to announce a record full-year profit before tax of $26 million, up from $20.4 million.

Energy shares were up one per cent as a whole after oil prices spiked to $US67 as the Energy Information Administration reported a huge inventory draw for the week.

Oil Search was up 2.9 per cent to $7.15, Santos gained 1.2 per cent to $6.93 and Cooper Energy gained 8.7 per cent to 56 cents after it signed a three-year agreement to supply gas to private packaging and recycling company Visy.

Whitehaven Coal gained 4.9 per cent to $3.83 after it said coal production was up 25 per cent for the three months to June 30, compared to a year prior.

Mining companies were up 0.8 per cent as a whole, with BHP gaining 0.7 per cent to $41.23 and Rio Tinto up 0.8 per cent to $104.51 but Fortescue Metals down 1.4 per cent to $8.77.

Gold miners gained as the price of the yellow metal rose 0.7 per cent on Mr Powell's comments, to $US1,420 an ounce, with Newcrest Mining up 2.1 per cent to $32.15 and Evolution up 2.6 per cent to $4.43.

The big banks were mixed after financial regulator APRA told Westpac, NAB and ANZ to set aside an extra $1.5 billion in capital until they get better at spotting risk.

NAB was up one per cent to $27.12 and Westpac up 0.4 per cent to $27.98, but Commonwealth was flat at $81.24 and ANZ down 0.8 per cent to $27.32.

Professional services financing firm QuickFee made a strong debut on the ASX, closing at 50 cents, up 150 per cent from its initial offering price.

Cryptocurrency prices were down, with Bitcoin sinking 8.9 per cent to $A16,670 on the Sydney exchange the Independent Reserve.

The Aussie dollar is buying 69.73 US cents, from 69.16 US cents on Wednesday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 26.3 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 6,716.1 points at 1630 AEST on Thursday.

* The All Ordinaries was up 28.1 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 6,805.8.

* At 1630 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was flat at 6,654.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 69.74 US cents, from 69.16 US cents on Wednesday

* 75.32 Japanese yen, from 75.34 yen

* 61.88 euro cents, from 61.69 cents

* 55.67 British pence, from 55.54 pence

* 104.58 NZ cents, from 104.78 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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