ASX gains as trade surplus hits a record

The Australian share market has showed its resiliency, closing higher for a third day as markets across Asia slipped.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished up 32.3 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 6,685.5 points at 1615 AEST on Wednesday, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 29 points, or 0.43 cent, to 6,770.1.

The ASX200 hit a 11-year intraday high of 6,692.4 and closed less than two points from its 11-year closing peak of 6,687.4 set two weeks ago.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said he was surprised by the gains, given the strong demand for bonds, soaring gold prices and rising Japanese yen.

"I was expecting pressure on our sharemarket, despite the positive lead from the US," he said.

Investors were happy with Woolworths as the supermarket giant announced it would combine its liquor and hospitality businesses, as well as news from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that Australia's trade surplus was at a record high because of strong iron ore exports, Mr McCarthy said.

"It's a great day for Australia," Mr McCarthy said.

Woolworths shares were up 2.7 per cent to a one-and-a-half-month high of $33.82 on the news of the restructuring.

Coles gained 2.1 per cent to $13.65 and IGA supplier Metcash was up 1.89 per cent to $2.69, while A2 Milk was up 3.5 per cent to $14.36.

Overall the consumers staples sector was up two per cent.

The similarly defensive sectors of property trusts and utilities were the other big gainers, both up 1.9 per cent.

Commercial and industrial property company Goodman Group was up 3.1 per cent to $15.63 while pipeline operator APA Group gained 2.3 per cent to $11.18.

The mining sector was up 0.6 per cent as a whole, with BHP gaining 0.1 per cent to $42.08, Rio Tinto up 0.6 per cent to $107.05 and Fortescue Metals up 2.4 per cent to $9.40.

Gold miners gained as the price of the yellow metal jumped back over $US1,400, with Newcrest Mining up 1.7 per cent to $32 and Evolution Mining up three per cent to $4.41.

The big banks were mostly lower, with ANZ dropping 0.3 per cent to $27.79, Commonwealth down 0.1 per cent to $80.95 and Westpac down 0.1 per cent to $27.90.

NAB was the outlier, up 0.5 per cent to $26.62.

Energy shares dropped 2.2 per cent as a whole after the price of oil fell four per cent overnight amid concerns about global growth.

Woodside Petroleum was down 2.4 per cent to $35.86, Santos fell 4.2 per cent to $6.90 and Oil Search dropped 2.8 per cent to $6.96.

Health care was the only other sector in the red, down 0.2 per cent after sector heavyweight CSL dropped 0.4 per cent to $217.25.

Vocus fell 2.7 per cent to $3.20 after the Dodo and iPrimus owner divided its operations into three independent business units, including a low-cost retail business reselling broadband, mobile and energy services.

The Aussie dollar is buying 69.93 US cents, from 69.80 US cents on Tuesday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 32.3 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 6,685.5 points at 1630 AEST on Tuesday.

* The All Ordinaries was up 29 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 6,770.1.

* At 1630 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was flat at 6,623.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 69.94 US cents, from 69.80 US cents on Tuesday

* 75.29 Japanese yen, from 75.69 yen

* 61.99 euro cents, from 61.82 cents

* 55.65 British pence, from 55.23 pence

* 104.72 NZ cents, from 104.68 cents

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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