ASX up again, closing in on all-time high
The Australian share market has finished higher for a fourth day, setting a fresh 11-1/2-year high, despite losses in the heavyweight mining sector.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 32.5 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 6,718 points on Thursday, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 30.7 points, or 0.45 cent, to 6,800.8.
"It's good to see some gains," said CommSec analyst Steven Daghlian.
"We're very much closing in on the best levels ever," Mr Daghlian said, referring to the closing price of 6,828.7 set November 1, 2007, during the global financial crisis.
Healthcare, financial and property trust shares were the highest climbers, with each sector gaining more than one per cent.
The big banks recouped losses from Tuesday after the Reserve Bank cut interest rates, reducing their profitability.
Westpac was up 1.3 per cent to $28.25; ANZ gained 1.3 per cent to $28.16; Commonwealth Bank gained 0.8 per cent to $81.57; and NAB was up one per cent to $26.89.
The materials sector slid 0.42 per cent after iron ore futures retreated.
BHP was down 0.6 per cent to $41.85; Rio Tinto was down 0.8 per cent to $106.20 and Fortescue Metals dropped 2.1 per cent to $9.20.
Gold miners gained as the price of the precious metal hovered above $US1,400, with Newcrest Mining up 1.1 per cent to $32.35 and Northern Star up 1.8 per cent to $11.71.
Biotech giant CSL gained 1.8 per cent to hit a 10-month high $221.12.
Woolworths continued to gain after Wednesday's announcement it would combine its liquor and hospitality businesses ahead of a divestment next year.
The supermarket giant closed up 0.7 per cent to $34.06.
Consumer discretionary shares dipped 0.1 per cent after ABS statistics for May indicated lower-than-expected levels of retail spending.
Flight Centre was down 1.4 per cent to $42.36 while AP Eagers dropped 3.3 per cent to $9.19.
Elsewhere, Aveo was up 2.8 per cent to $2 after the retirement home operator confirmed that Brookfield Asset Management was the previously undisclosed company interested in acquiring it.
Stockland was up 0.92 per cent to $4.38 after the property group sold a 50 per cent interest in its Aura residential development in Queensland to Terry Snow's Capital Property Group.
The Australian dollar is at a two-month high, buying 70.36 US cents, from 69.94 US cents on Wednesday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 32.5 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 6,718 points at 1630 AEST on Thursday.
* The All Ordinaries was up 30.8 points, or 0.45 per cent, to 6,800.9.
* At 1630 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was up 39 points, or 0.59 per cent, to 6,662.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 70.34 US cents, from 69.94 US cents on Tuesday
* 75.84 Japanese yen, from 75.29 yen
* 62.35 euro cents, from 61.99 cents
* 55.95 British pence, from 55.65 pence
* 104.96 NZ cents, from 104.72 cents
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