ASX ends above 6200 first time since March

Shares have closed higher and above 6200 points for the first time since March as the Australian market defied a negative US lead.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark closed higher by 31.1 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 6210.3 on Thursday.

The All Ordinaries index finished up by 26.8 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 6414.2.

The ASX200 gained 6.78 per cent and closed lower only twice this month.

ThinkMarkets analyst Carl Capolingua said Thursday's result was extremely robust given negative leads from overseas, including the US.

"It's further evidence we're starting to stand on our own two feet and fundamentals," he said.

"Hopefully that means a decoupling between us and the rest of the world, because we've underperformed the rest of the world in recent times."

He was optimistic that closing above 6200 might mean the ASX200 could move higher.

"If we can close above that number, maybe it's not as scary as we thought it was," he said.

Before trade, RBA Governor Philip Lowe said further monetary easing would get more traction. Many took this to mean a rate cut next month.

"As the economy opens up ... it is reasonable to expect that further monetary easing would get more traction than was the case earlier," Mr Lowe told a Citi Australian and New Zealand investment conference.

Most experts believe the RBA would cut to a 0.1 per cent cash rate. Mr Lowe and his peers have said they are not keen on negative rates.

The comments and prospect of lower interest rates prompted fund managers to move money out of the country.

The Aussie dollar fell from 71.68 US cents to 71.29 US cents in the course of Mr Lowe's talk.

Mr Lowe was given more to ponder by September jobs figures, which showed the unemployment rate rose 0.1 per cent to 6.9 per cent.

The rise was smaller than expected. Economists had expected the rate to spike to 7.1 per cent.

In aviation, Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah will step down once the airline's sale to US private equity group Bain Capital is completed, the airline's administrator said.

Jayne Hrdlicka, a former head of Jetstar, will take the top job at the close of the deal, expected in early November.

On the ASX, energy and materials were the top performers, up 2.48 and 1.18 per cent respectively.

Origin Energy was the best of the big energy names, up 4.13 per cent to $4.54.

The best large capitalisation performer on the ASX was Whitehaven Coal, which rose by 11.58 per cent to $1.06.

Its September production report showed coal sales and production were up on the same period last year.

Whitehaven said it had no information from China about changes to coal imports.

Reports the Chinese government told ports not to accept Australian coal gained more credence at BHP's annual general meeting late on Wednesday.

The miner said some Chinese customers have asked to defer orders.

The comments did not hurt shares. BHP moved higher by 2.05 per cent to $36.77. Rio Tinto was higher by 0.99 per cent to $96.27 and Fortescue was up 1.4 per cent to $16.62.

The big four banks all moved less than one per cent higher.

Earlier, US markets finished weaker after investors lost hope that US fiscal stimulus would be approved before the election on November 3.

Looking ahead, weekly US jobless claims data will be revealed overnight

The Aussie dollar was buying 71.23 US cents at 1718 AEDT, lower from 71.68 US cents at the close of trade on Wednesday.

ON THE ASX

* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark closed higher by 31.1 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 6210.3 on Thursday.

* The All Ordinaries index finished up by 26.8 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 6414.2.

* At 1718 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was lower by 2.0 points, or 0.03 per cent, at 6197.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 71.23 US cents, from 71.67 US cents on Wednesday

* 74.97 Japanese yen, from 75.58 yen

* 60.62 Euro cents, from 61.02 cents

* 54.79 British pence, from 55.51 pence

* 107.17 NZ cents, from 107.69 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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