ASX records new high for fourth day in row
Australian shares have reached fresh all-time highs for a fourth consecutive day after Chinese economic data showed better than expected growth for Australia's top trading partner.
The benchmark &P/ASX200 index hit an all-time intraday high of 7,088.1 points, finishing Friday up 22.3 points, or 0.32 per cent, to an all-time closing high of 7,064.1 points.
The broader All Ordinaries gained 21.7 points, or 0.3 per cent, to finish at an all-time high of 7,180.3 points.
The ASX200 finished the week up 1.95 per cent, and is up 5.69 per cent so far this year, having lost ground for only two of the 12 trading sessions in 2020.
"The local bourse is on fire and then some!" declared Australian Stock Report market analyst Ben Le Brun.
"It's a thing of beauty, and local investors will be pleased as punch.
"Australia is a historically a bit of a laggard compared to our US counterparts, but we're mixing it up with the big boys at the moment."
The question now is how long the gains can be sustained - so all eyes will be on US earnings season as well as Australia's company reporting season when it begins next month, Mr Le Brun said.
The heavyweight mining sector led gains on Friday, with the sector up 1.2 per cent as BHP rose 1.2 per cent to $40.60, Rio Tinto gained 1.8 per cent to $105.24 and Fortescue Metals climbed 3.7 per cent to $11.41.
Goldminers were up as well, with Northern Star gaining 3.2 per cent, Newcrest up 0.8 per cent and Evolution up 1.3 per cent.
Woolworths was up 0.9 per cent to $39.04, while CSL dropped 0.3 per cent, but still finished above the historic $300 level at $300.10.
Brickworks and Altium both set new all-time highs, with the brickmaker rising 1.1 per cent to $20.01 and the printed circuit board software company gaining 0.8 per cent to $38.44.
A2 Milk, a major exporter to China, rose 3.3 per cent to $14.68 after China announced the country's economy grew in the fourth quarter more than analysts had expected, given the bruising US-China trade war.
Pilbara Minerals was the biggest ASX200 gainer, up 8.6 per cent, while fellow lithium miners Galaxy Resources and Orocobre gained between 1.7 and 2.0 per cent.
The big banks were mixed, with Commonwealth down 0.5 per cent to $84.05, while NAB was up 0.4 per cent to $25.46, Westpac up 0.3 per cent to $24.98 and ANZ flat at $25.42.
Nufarm dropped 10 per cent to $5.48 after the agricultural and chemical company said its Australian and New Zealand operations were hammered by climate extremes during the bushfire crisis.
In the tech sector, Appen was up 4.4 per cent to a two-month high of $26.11, while Mesoblast buoyed the health care sector with a 5.4 per cent rise to a nearly two-year high of $2.53.
The Australian dollar meanwhile was buying 68.96 US cents, down from 69.05 US cents at Thursday's close.
In cryptocurrency, Bitcoins were trading for just under $A13,000 on Australian exchanges, a two-month high and up over three per cent from Thursday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 22.3 points, or 0.32 per cent, at 7,064.1 points.
* The All Ordinaries was closed up 21.7 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 7,180.3 points.
* The SPI200 futures index closed up 19 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 7008 points.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 69.05 US cents, from 69.05 US cents on Thursday
* 75.92 Japanese yen, from 75.92 yen
* 61.94 euro cents, from 61.94 cents
* 52.92 British pence, from 52.92 pence
* 104.15 NZ cents, from 104.15 cents
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