ASX200 finishes up 0.6pct, at 2-month high

The Australian share market has finished at a two-month high after gaining ground for a third straight week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Friday finished up 40.7 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 7015.6, the first time since June 9 it has closed above the 7000 level.

The broader All Ordinaries rose 42.8 points, or 0.59 per cent, to 7250.3.

For the week the ASX200 gained 70.5 points, or 1.0 per cent, its third straight week of gains ahead of a key US jobs report due overnight.

City Index analyst Tony Sycamore said the ASX had been facing a loss of momentum after Thursday's flat finish, but the market regained it Friday.

"A decent close - closed the week on its highs," he told AAP.

"So that strength is still there. Unless something untoward comes out of the employment report tonight, then you'd probably look to a stronger session next week."

A stronger US jobs report will be seen as bad news for equities, as it would add pressure on the US Federal Reserve to again raise interest rates, Mr Sycamore indicated.

On the ASX, energy and mining on Friday went in two different directions, with the former the worst-performing sector and the latter the best.

Energy was down 1.4 per cent as Brent crude dropped to a six-month low of $US93 a barrel following a surprise buildup of US oil inventories.

Woodside dropped 1.3 per cent to $31.11, while Viva Energy fell 4.5 per cent and Whitehaven Coal retreated 3.5 per cent.

But the materials sector gained 1.9 per cent, with gains across iron ore miners, goldminers and lithium producers.

"We've seen a pickup in the iron ore price, after a decline after some days, and this is supported by the heavyweights," Saxo Capital Markets analyst Jessica Amir told AAP. "They're seeing a bit of a comeback."

BHP advanced 1.7 per cent to $38.81, Rio Tinto gained 2.6 per cent to $97.74, and Fortescue Metals was up 2.7 per cent to $18.14.

"Apart from that, the show-stopper is lithium," Ms Amir added, attributing the gains to US lithium giant Albemarle upgrading its guidance, and Thursday's report showing Australian lithium exports at a record high.

Pilbara Minerals gained 3.5 per cent to $2.87, Liontown was up 6.7 per cent to $1.505, and Core Lithium added 6.2 per cent to $1.285, as the Adelaide-based company gained a new chief executive.

Elsewhere, the big banks were mixed, with ANZ up 0.8 per cent to $22.95 and Westpac rising 0.5 per cent to $21.96, but NAB was flat at $30.91 and CBA down 0.4 per cent to $101.41.

In the small end of town, junior explorer Peregrine Gold soared 75 per cent to a six-month high of 73.5c after announcing "spectacular" results from hand-held drilling at its prospecting site west of Newman in Western Australia.

Also, Incannex Healthcare rose 24.4 per cent to 28c. The early-stage pharmaceutical company added to its portfolio of cannabis-based drug candidates by completing its acquisition of a Dutch company.

Meanwhile the Australian dollar was buying 69.66 US cents, up from 69.63 US cents on Thursday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Friday closed up 40.7 point, or 0.58 per cent, at 7015.6.

* The All Ordinaries gained 42.8 points, or 0.59 per cent, to 7250.3.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 69.63 US cents, from 69.63 US cents at Thursday's close

* 92.92 Japanese yen, from 93.48 yen

* 68.10 Euro cents, from 68.43 cents

* 57.33 British pence, from 57.30 pence

* 110.59 NZ cents, from 110.61 cents

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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