Miners, financials push ASX higher
The Australian share market has closed stronger, with gains almost across the board and miners buoyed by BHP's deal to sell its troublesome US shale oil assets.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 55.7 points, or 0.89 per cent, at 6,300.2 points on Friday, while the broader All Ordinaries rose 53.9 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 6,391.5 points.
For the week the benchmark index has gained 14 points and, to date, has lifted 1.7 per cent during July.
The share market is on track to record four consecutive months of gains, the longest run since 2013.
Nearly a year after putting its US shale assets up for sale and after months of market anticipation, BHP on Friday announced it had secured a sale.
BHP shares gained 76 cents, or 2.3 per cent, to close at $34.40 on Friday, underscoring the deal's better-than-expected sale price and expectations of a lucrative share buyback.
Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said the sale of the US energy assets was a surprise for shareholders.
"It (the sale) was sooner than expected, which was nice to see," she said.
"And secondly, the price which was higher than expected so shareholders would have been pretty happy."
But the bad news continued for AMP as the firm warned its first-half underlying profit will drop by as much as 11 per cent and it set aside about $290 million to refund and compensate customers it overcharged for financial advice.
Shares in the firm slumped 18 points, or 5.2 per cent, to $3.30.
Despite this, the financial sector lifted one per cent, helped by solid gains for the big four banks.
ANZ rose 1.6 per cent to $29.48 and National Australia Bank gained one per cent to $28.40, while Westpac closed 1.1 per cent higher at $29.47 and Commonwealth Bank gained 0.7 per cent to $75.36.
Oil stocks climbed after Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil company announced on Thursday it was temporarily halting crude shipments through the Red Sea, causing a spike in global oil prices.
The Australian dollar lost ground ahead of expected strong US economic growth figures that have boosted the greenback.
The Aussie was trading at 73.88 US cents at 1700 AEST on Friday, down from 74.28 US cents on Thursday.
ON THE ASX
* The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was up 55.7 points, or 0.89 per cent, at 6,300.2 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 53.9 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 6,391.5 points.
* The SPI200 futures contract was up 54 points, or 0.87 per cent, at 6,251 points at 1630 AEST
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 73.88 US cents, from 74.28 US cents on Thursday
* 82.018 Japanese yen, from 82.21
* 63.43 euro cents, from 63.37
* 56.40 British pence, from 56.31
* 108.93 NZ cents, from 108.73
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,223.54 per fine ounce, up from $US1,229.67 per fine ounce on Thursday.
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