ASX closes better for third straight day

Australia's share market had a third consecutive day of gains as Reserve Bank projections and Wall Street helped it higher, but the week's momentum was less impressive for one analyst.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 62 points, or 0.92 per cent, to 6824.6 on Wednesday.

The All Ordinaries closed higher by 63.4 points, or 0.9 per cent, at 7090.9.

The property sector was best, up 2.56 per cent.

Larger sectors health and financials had big increases of 1.99 and 1.47 per cent respectively.

CommSec market analyst Stephen Daghlian said three days of gains appeared great, but context was needed.

"We're coming off declines from last week," he said.

The ASX200 lost 2.84 per cent over four trading days last week, which included the Australia Day public holiday.

"We've basically been bouncing from a disappointing week to a good one," Mr Daghlian said.

"We're doing just OK. The market is finding it difficult to take it to the next level."

Few large companies have reported earnings this month, and Mr Daghlian said these reports would be investors' focus.

Earlier Wall Street closed higher, helped by gains in Amazon and Google-parent Alphabet before they issued earnings.

Progress on a US pandemic relief package also helped optimism. After trade, the US Senate voted for the proposed $US1.9 trillion ($A2.5 trillion) coronavirus aid bill without Republican support.

Domestically, Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe gave more reasons for the board's Tuesday decision to extend its bond-buying program beyond mid-April, and leave the cash rate at 0.1 per cent.

Mr Lowe expects some job shedding when the federal government ends its JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme in March.

"That's going to take place in the context of an economy that is otherwise recovering," he said.

On the ASX, Virgin Money, which operates in the UK, was one of the best performers.

It rose 14.63 per cent to $2.82 after claiming an unspecified first-quarter profit. The company does not have to give the figure for a quarterly update, as per exchange rules.

While the company does not trade in Australia, it has plenty of shareholders in Australia as it was once owned by the National Australia Bank.

Drug manufacturer Paradigm Biopharmaceuticals surged 11.65 per cent to $2.78 after claiming more osteoarthritis patients felt less pain having used its injectable drug Zilosul.

The company published results from trials that claimed patients felt less pain in their knees.

The drug is based on a longstanding one used to treat osteoarthritis in tablet form, pentosan polysulfate sodium.

The High Court has dismissed Westpac's appeal against a ruling that staff broke the law when they provided personal advice to customers about superannuation.

Regulator ASIC took the bank to court in 2016 over calls to 14 customers about transferring superannuation funds. Westpac Securities and BT Funds Management were the respondents.

The Federal Court will decide penalties.

Westpac gained 1.54 per cent to $21.75.

Among major rivals, ANZ rose 1.85 per cent to $24.80, the Commonwealth was up 1.15 per cent to $87.59 and NAB gained 1.94 per cent to $24.71.

Big miners dipped after the iron ore price slipped.

BHP shed 2.15 per cent to $44.13, Fortescue slid 0.22 per cent to $22.66 and Rio Tinto was down 1.1 per cent to $113.76.

On Thursday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will publish data on the international trade of goods and services in December.

The Aussie dollar was buying 76.10 US cents at 1725 AEDT, lower from 76.22 US cents at Tuesday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 62 points, or 0.92 per cent, to 6824.6 on Wednesday.

* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 63.4 points, or 0.9 per cent, at 7090.9.

* At 1725 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was higher by three points, or 0.04 per cent, at 6780 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 76.10 US cents, from 76.22 cents on Tuesday

* 79.92 Japanese yen, from 79.99 yen

* 63.20 Euro cents, from 63.12 cents

* 55.74 British pence, from 55.70 pence

* 105.46 NZ cents, from 106.20 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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