Australian shares have closed higher, after a strong day for the big four banks and most other heavyweight stocks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index was up 0.6 per cent at 5,989.8 points at 1630 AEDT, its strongest daily gain in a month.
Phillip Capital senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said investors decided the major banks were a good buy on Thursday, in defiance of soft overnight leads and the recent announcement of a royal commission into the financial sector.
“The royal commission is well priced in and it’s also a long way out – throw in their dividend yield at around five and a half per cent, Macquarie Bank as well – and the banks really do represent pretty good value,” Mr Heffernan said.
Westpac led the charge, up 1.3 per cent, while ANZ gained 0.9 per cent, National Australia Bank gained 0.8 per cent, Commonwealth Bank added 0.5 per cent and Macquarie Group was 0.8 per cent stronger.
Despite a three per cent slide in global oil prices, Santos added one per cent in value, Origin Energy gained 1.1 per cent, and Oil Search and Woodside Petroleum each inched ahead 0.1 per cent.
BHP Billiton dropped 0.2 per cent while Rio Tinto found 0.9 per cent.
Shares in Nufarm slipped one per cent to $8.69 after the agricultural chemicals company forecast a fall in half year earnings due to weaker November trade in South America and maintenance at a Victorian plant.
The Australian dollar continues its slide, losing ground on a much sharper than expected fall in Australia’s trade surplus in October, due in part to weaker prices for iron ore exports.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index was up 32 points, or 0.54 per cent, at 5,977.7 points at 1630 AEDT.
* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 30.9 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 6,060.8 points.
* The SPI200 futures contract was up 30 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 5,981 points.
* National turnover was 4.1 billion securities traded worth $5.7 billion
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 75.44 US cents, from 75.84 US cents on Wednesday
* 84.88 Japanese yen, from 84.99 yen
* 63.98 euro cents, from 64.03 euro cents
* 56.43 British pence, from 56.46 pence
* 110.10 NZ cents, from 109.78 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,260.29 per fine ounce, from $US1,267.45 per fine ounce on Wednesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.8401pct, from 1.8527pct on Wednesday
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.4746pct, from 2.4701pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* December 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.47 (implying a yield of 2.53pct) from 97.475 (2.525pct) on Wednesday
* December 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.055 (1.945pct), from 98.040 (1.960pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)