Materials sector boosts share market
Strong gains by resources companies including Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton have lifted the share market, despite falls by the banks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index gained 0.2 per cent, after earlier being close to 0.5 per cent higher.
The heavyweight materials sector was boosted by iron ore prices surpassing US$80 a tonne overnight, as well stronger copper, zinc and gold prices.
"Certainly the day belongs to the materials sector on the strength of commodity price action last night," optionsXpress market analyst Ben Le Brun said.
Rio Tinto jumped 3.9 per cent to $62.28, BHP Billiton rose 2.6 per cent to $26.02 and Fortescue Metals gained 4.5 per cent to $6.23.
Three of the big four banks lost ground on the back of some profit taking, and ahead of financial reports from some major US banks later this week, Mr Le Brun said.
There could have also been some "switching" out of the banks, which have rallied in recent weeks, into the miners, he said.
National Australia Bank dropped 26 cents to $31.41, Westpac fell 24 cents to $33.46 and ANZ lost eight cents to $31.20, while Commonwealth Bank rose 18 cents to $85.00.
Bellamy's Australia plunged 19.9 per cent to $5.35 after the baby formula supplier's second profit warning in six weeks, and the departure of chief executive Laura McBain.
The Australian dollar is slightly higher against its US counterpart, as overnight falls were regathered due to higher iron ore prices and positive Chinese economic data.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 gained 10.8 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 5,771.5 points.
* The broader All Ordinaries index added 10.7 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 5,823.7 points
* The March SPI200 futures contract was up 14 points at 5,730 points.
* National turnover was 2.55 billion securities traded worth $5.34 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 73.79 US cents, from 73.74 US cents on Tuesday
* 85.57 Japanese yen, from 85.22 yen
* 69.95 euro cents, from 69.50 euro cents
* 60.69 British pence, from 60.69 pence
* 105.46 New Zealand cents, from 104.89 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,189.03 per fine ounce, up $US2.73 from $US1,186.30 on Tuesday.
* CGS 5.25 per cent March 2019 at 1.861pct, up from 1.86pct on Tuesday.
* CGS 4.25pct April 2026 at 2.669pct, up from 2.652pct.
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.23 (implying a yield of 2.77pct), down from 97.25 (2.75pct) on Tuesday.
* March 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.0 (2.0pct) steady.
(*Currency closes taken at 1700 AEDT previous local session, bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session)
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