ASX tips record before key inflation data

Shares climbed to a record closing high on the Australian market but may tumble on Friday if there is any sign of rising inflation from the US.

The ASX200 closed higher than 7300 points for the first time yet investors made modest moves prior to the US consumer price index figures, due on Thursday night.

Experts expect the resurgent US economy to produce May inflation rates well above the US Federal Reserve target of two per cent.

This could put pressure on the central bank to bring forward a rate rise.

CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian said the inflation data could set the tone for the ASX on Friday.

A European Central Bank meeting, also due overnight, could reveal when policymakers will begin to withdraw support for Europe's economy.

Mr Daghlian said the ASX's uncharted territory was another factor in the market gaining less than half a per cent on Thursday.

"We're at record highs and markets have been cautiously heading higher in the past few sessions," he said.

"You've got interest rates at record lows. Trillions in stimulus globally. Vaccines being distributed.

"We don't know how the coronavirus will develop but investors are encouraged by vaccines and central banks don't seem in a rush to raise rates."

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed higher by 32.3 points, or 0.44 per cent, to 7302.5.

The All Ordinaries closed up by 36.8 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 7558.8.

The performance, like most Asian markets, was better than Wall Street where stocks closed lower.

ASX property and technology shares performed best and rose by more than two per cent.

Technology was helped by demand for shares in markets software vendor Iress.

A media report that investment bank Barrenjoey may buy a stake prompted shares to surge by 16.8 per cent to $12.79.

Iress said it had not received an approach.

Most of the major players in banking and mining struggled to make substantial gains.

Energy shares had the only meaningful loss, 1.1 per cent.

Domestically, people in Melbourne are enduring their last day of a two-week coronavirus lockdown before the rules ease across the state on Friday.

Melburnians will have a 25km travel limit for at least a week.

Woolworths' takeover of distributor PFD Food Services will go ahead despite competitors' concerns the retail giant will eventually crush them.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission allowed Woolworths to buy 65 per cent of shares in PFD, which delivers food to cafes, restaurants, hotels, clubs and more.

The purchase will cost $552 million.

Woolworths shares were up 0.77 per cent to $42.96.

Mortgage Choice shareholders voted to accept a takeover bid from property advertising group REA.

News Corp-owned REA in March made its $244 million offer, worth $1.95 per share.

Court and other approvals are still required.

Mortgage Choice shares closed higher by 0.26 per cent to $1.94.

REA shares gained 1.62 per cent to $167.70.

ASIC started court action to fine ship-builder Austal and former boss David Singleton for alleged historical breaches of disclosure rules.

ASIC claims Austal could have better informed investors about its Littoral Combat Ship program prior to July 2016.

Shares were down 2.16 per cent to $2.27.

In banking, ANZ was the only one of the big four to close lower and slipped 0.14 per cent to $28.69.

The others gained less than one per cent.

In mining, BHP had the most notable slip and lost 0.76 per cent to $48.30.

Fortescue climbed 0.79 per cent to $22.83 while Rio Tinto gained 0.1 per cent to $124.92.

The Australian dollar was buying 77.31 US cents at 1727 AEST, lower from 77.42 US cents at Wednesday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed higher by 32.3 points, or 0.44 per cent, to 7302.5 on Thursday.

* The All Ordinaries closed up by 36.8 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 7558.8.

* At 1727 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was trading lower by 15 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 7291.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 77.31 US cents, from 77.42 cents on Wednesday

* 84.68 Japanese yen, from 84.81 yen

* 63.57 Euro cents, from 63.64 cents

* 54.90 British pence, from 54.67 pence

* 107.80 NZ cents, from 107.55 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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