Resources rally drives strong market gain
The share market has posted its best session in seven months due to positive half-year earnings results and strong gains for the miners and the energy producers.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 1.2 per cent to 5,909 points, driven by a 2.5 per cent gain for the mining sector and 2.4 per cent rise for the energy sector.
Philip Capital senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said the half-year corporate reporting season was ramping up, while broad factors such as US tax cuts and continued local jobs growth in January were also a positive influence.
"The fundamentals of the market I think remain very strong," Mr Heffernan said.
"We're not shooting the lights out, we're in recovery mode, but the economy is in good shape, there were pretty good performances today and there's no reason the share market isn't going to respond."
US dollar weakness, due to stronger-than-expected US inflation data, drove up commodities and oil prices.
BHP Billiton shares gained 4.6 per cent, Rio Tinto surged 4.1 per cent, Santos added 4.1 per cent and Oil Search was 2.3 per cent stronger.
Origin Energy shares gained 6.9 per cent after the producer and retailer improved its half year underlying profit and increased its full year earnings guidance for its core business.
Telstra's first-half profit dipped by five per cent, but its shares edged 0.6 per cent higher.
All the major banks also rose, with ANZ the best performer, rising 1.6 per cent.
Market operator ASX gained 3.4 per cent as its half year profit rose five per cent.
Suncorp shed 2.4 per cent after its first-half profit dropped 16 per cent thanks to heavy costs associated with Melbourne's December hailstorm.
The Australian dollar benefited from the US dollar's weakness, and was supported by January's labour force data, which showed a gain of 16,000 positions and an unemployment rate of 5.5 per cent.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 67.8 points, or 1.16 per cent, at 5,909.0 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 68.7 points, or 1.16 per cent, at 6,008.7 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was up 73 points, or 1.26 per cent, at 5,863.0 points
* National turnover was 3.2 billion securities traded worth $6.7 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 79.37 US cents, from 78.77 US cents on Wednesday
* 84.55 Japanese yen, from 84.42 yen
* 63.67 euro cents, from 63.64 euro cents
* 56.64 British pence, from 56.66 pence
* 107.57 NZ cents, from 107.74 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,354.41 per fine ounce, from $US1,334.89 per fine ounce on Wednesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0035pct, from 1.9836pct on Wednesday
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.8669pct, from 2.7996pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.085 (implying a yield of 2.915pct), from 97.155 (2.845pct) on Wednesday
* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.84 (2.16pct), from 97.87 (2.13pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)
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