ASX finishes best week since late August

The Australian share market has closed solidly higher amid optimism that progress is being made between the US and China on trade.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Friday up 59.7 points, or 0.91 per cent, to 6,606.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 59 points, or 0.89 per cent, to 6,721.9 points.

"Definitely a strong finish to the week," said CommSec market analyst James Tao.

Dominated by headlines about US-China trade, the week was "definitely a rollercoaster ride," Mr Tao said.

But the local bourse still finished the five days up 90 points, or 1.4 per cent, for the ASX's best weekly gains since a 1.8 per cent rise from August 19-23.

The rally came after US President Donald Trump announced overnight that he plans to meet Chinese Vice Premier Liu He on Friday, boosting optimism that the two countries could agree to a deal to ease trade tensions.

"There's gains across the board, banks, miners, health care," Mr Tao said of Friday's session.

Health care and mining stocks were the strongest performers, with most sectors up 1.3 per cent.

Biotech giant CSL rose two per cent to an all-time high of $244.54 and Neuren Pharmaceuticals climbed 8.9 per cent to $2.33 after the US Food and Drug Administration granted an orphan drug designation for its drug candidate to treat the genetic disorder Angelman syndrome.

Mining giant BHP climbed 2.1 per cent to $35.82, Rio Tinto rose 2.3 per cent to $89.97 and Fortescue Metals surged 4.1 per cent to $8.81 after extending its $500 million share buyback program for another 12 months.

Goldminers were lower as traders fled safe harbour assets for riskier ones, with Newcrest and Evolution both down 1.5 per cent and Northern Star falling 1.2 per cent.

But Silver Lake Resources spiked 12.5 per cent to $1.035 on a strong quarterly production update.

Toll road operator Transurban, which functions as a bond proxy, fell 2.3 per cent to $14.60 to drag down the industrial sector, the only one to lose ground.

The big banks were all higher, with Commonwealth up 0.9 per cent to $78.77, ANZ climbing 1.1 per cent to $27.49, Westpac up 0.8 per cent to $28.75 and NAB up 0.6 per cent to $28.20.

Michael Hill International rose 19.3 per cent to a six-month high of 68 cents after announcing same-store sales at its jewellery stores surged 11.9 per cent in the September quarter.

Other strong gainers included Macquarie Group, up 2.2 per cent; Xero, up 3.4 per cent; Telstra, up 1.7 per cent; and CIMIC Group, up 5.1 per cent.

Air New Zealand was flat at $2.66 after the airline said it was hiring Walmart US boss Greg Foran as its new chief executive officer.

The Aussie dollar is buying 67.79 US cents, up from 67.46 US cents on Thursday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 59.7 points, or 0.91 per cent, to 6,606.8 points

* The All Ordinaries closed up 59 points, or 0.89 per cent, to 6,721.9 points.

* The SPI200 futures index closed up 52 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 6,581.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 67.76 US cents, from 67.46 US cents on Thursday

* 73.19 Japanese yen, from 72.51 yen

* 61.50 euro cents, from 61.41 cents

* 54.41 British pence, from 55.18 pence

* 107.20 NZ cents, from 106.80 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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