ASX sets fresh high to cap milestone week
Shares extended all-time highs on the Australian market, and overseas inflation data appears the only immediate obstacle to rising portfolio values.
The ASX200 benchmark index rose as high as 7300.5 points then eased slightly to close up 35.3 points, or 0.49 per cent, on Friday.
The All Ordinaries closed higher by 32.6 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 7543.3.
The ASX had a record-breaking week. The market hit a record high early on Monday, then improved through the week.
The ASX had its third consecutive week of gains and rose 1.61 per cent.
ThinkMarkets analyst Carl Capolingua said he could not see much ahead to stop the trajectory.
"The path of least resistance is up, because of the huge cashpiles that are sitting out there. Many of them are earning about zero per cent interest," he said.
Low interest rates have encouraged many to enter the share market to seek better returns.
Low rates have also encouraged spending. The economies of Australia and the US have made good progress in recovering from the pandemic and improving employment.
The rapid recovery in the US, in particular, has made inflation a concern for many investors.
Overnight, better-than-expected US employment data raised expectations of higher inflation and an earlier tapering of Federal Reserve stimulus.
US Treasury yields jumped, lifting the US dollar and pulling down tech shares. Wall Street closed lower.
Inflation concerns will be tested next week when the US and China issue inflation figures.
China will issue consumer and producer price indexes.
Mr Capolingua said the latter wholesale index could be vital due to the reach of Chinese manufacturers.
"If inflation is rising at the wholesale level, China could export inflation to the rest of the world," he said.
In Australia, home lending was a talking point.
Home lending rose to a record high in April, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
A 3.7 per cent increase helped the record to $31 billion as investors continue swooping on the low rates of the pandemic economy.
Meanwhile Melburnians began their second week of a coronavirus lockdown.
Those in regional Victoria were exempt from the lockdown extension. The state on Friday reported four new local infections.
On the ASX, the biggest gains were in utilities shares (1.39 per cent).
Origin Energy rose 5.36 per cent to $4.72.
There were gains of more than one per cent for energy, industrials, consumer staples, healthcare and financials.
The Reject Shop dropped 6.33 per cent to $5.92 after it said sales at city stores continued to be well below pre-COVID levels.
Group sales for the 48 weeks to May 30 were down by 1.4 per cent on the equivalent 2019 financial year period.
Artificial intelligence provider Appen said its boss Mark Brayan had sold $1.43 million in shares to meet tax obligations.
Investors were concerned by the decision and sent shares lower by 6.28 per cent to $12.24.
The big four banks were all higher by more than one per cent.
ANZ was best and rose 1.49 per cent to $29.20.
The big three miners were all lower.
BHP lost 1.69 per cent to $48.75. Fortescue shed 2.01 per cent to $22.97. Rio Tinto dropped 1.88 per cent to $124.62.
Kiwi building supplies group Fletcher Building said it will start its on-market share buyback from June 10.
The company will buy up to $NZ300 million in shares on the Australian and New Zealand exchanges.
Fletcher Building in May flagged the buyback.
Shares were up 1.96 per cent to $7.30.
The Australian dollar was buying 76.68 US cents at 1724 AEST, lower from 77.30 US cents at Thursday's close.
ON THE ASX
* The ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 35.3 points, or 0.49 per cent, at 7295.4 on Friday.
* The All Ordinaries closed up by 32.6 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 7543.3.
* At 1724 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was lower by one point, or 0.01 per cent, at 7292.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 76.68 US cents, from 77.30 cents on Thursday
* 84.47 Japanese yen, from 84.77 yen
* 63.30 Euro cents, from 63.37 cents
* 54.35 British pence, from 54.56 pence
* 107.16 NZ cents, from 107.05 cents.
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