Big banks retreat as rest of ASX rallies
The Australian share market has risen on the last trading day before the federal election despite the heavyweight financial sector dropping out of the broad rally.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished up 37.5 points, or 0.59 per cent, to 6,365.3 points at 1615 AEST on Friday, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 42.7 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 6,460.2.
"The market's doing quite well - not what you'd necessarily expect on the eve of a federal election," said CommSec market analyst Tom Piotrowski. "It's surprising to see the market as strong as it is."
Mr Piotrowski attributed the rise to the growing consensus that the Reserve Bank of Australia would be forced to cut interest rates following mixed economic data, including the rise in the unemployment rate announced on Thursday.
For the week the ASX was up 0.86 per cent, breaking two consecutive weeks of losses.
The consumers staples sector was the biggest winner on Friday, moving up 1.76 per cent behind strong performances by the domestic supermarket chains.
Woolworths gained 2.2 per cent to $34.18, its highest level since late 2014, while Coles was up 2.9 per cent to $12.93, its highest level since November 2018.
The mining sector was up 1.6 per cent as a whole, with BHP up 2.5 per cent to $38.46 and Fortescue Metals rocketing up 6.6 per cent to $8.95 - another 11-year high for the iron ore miner.
The financial sector was the only one in the red, collectively down 0.9 per cent.
NAB fell 1.2 per cent to $23.92, Westpac fell 1.7 per cent to $25.41, Commonwealth dropped 0.7 per cent to $72.83 and ANZ fell three per cent to $25.85 after its New Zealand subsidiary was censured by that country's central bank for problems with its model of assessing risk capital.
Citadel Group shares plunged 39.8 per cent to $4.12 after the Canberra-based information management company issued a profit warning, saying the federal and NSW governments had delayed making decisions on projects in the lead up to elections.
Neuren Pharmaceuticals shares rose 14.6 per cent after the Melbourne biotech company reported one of its drug candidates to treat neurodevelopmental disorders had shown early promise in two preliminary studies involving mice.
Virgin Australia shares fell 5.41 per cent to 17.5 cents after the airline said it would lose at least $35.6 million this fiscal year.
CSL was up 1.7 per cent to $206.51, while Telstra gained 1.4 per cent to $3.56.
The cryptocurrency market pulled back after several days of gains, with the price of a bitcoin crashing 10.8 per cent to $US7,178 on Bitstamp, or $A10,381 on Independent Reserve.
The Aussie dollar is buying 68.89 US cents, from 69.13 US cents on Thursday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 37.5 points, or 0.59 per cent, to 6,365.3 points at 1630 AEST on Friday.
* The All Ordinaries was up 42.7 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 6,460.2.
* At 1630 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was up 18 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 6,363.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 68.89 US cents, from 69.13 US cents on Thursday
* 75.51 Japanese yen, from 75.69 yen
* 61.60 euro cents, from 61.67 euro cents
* 53.87 British pence, from 53.83 pence
* 105.27 NZ cents, from 105.43 cents
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