The Australian share market has ended the day and the week above 6,000 points as stronger commodity and energy prices lifted stocks despite a relatively quiet final pre-Christmas session.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index was up 0.15 per cent at 6069.7 points at 1630 AEDT, with investors rallying around higher oil and commodity prices.
CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said at around the 6070 point mark the market produced a relatively firm performance,but less positive than some hoped for, leaving the door open to a post-Christmas correction.
“The outlook is pretty good but valuations are full and the market is being guided by sentiment,” he said.
“If we don’t move higher next week and start to flatline, then that’s telling us we are vulnerable for a bit of a pullback.”
While US markets are higher this week following the passing of corporate tax cuts in Congress, Mr Spooner said that stimulus may have already been priced in here.
“The key factor here is we got a good lead from commodity and energy markets and that is what played out today,” he said.
Iron ore prices edged higher again overnight and are now reaching toward $US75 a tonne, lifting BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto 0.9 per cent, and 0.8 per cent respectively, while the gold miner Newcrest also climbed 0.6 per cent.
BHP Billiton also announced on Friday it will provide $181 million in funding to its Samarco joint venture in Brazil as well as to the non-profit foundation it set up in the wake of the 2015 mine tailings dam collapse there.
Oil Search and Santos led the energy sector gains, up 0.8 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively, on Brent oil prices that struck two year highs after OPEC flagged it would make a gradual exit from its current supply restrictions agreement after 2018.
The big four banks closed higher, led by the Commonwealth Bank, up 58 cents, or 0.7 per cent, at $80.39.
Westpac gained 10 cents, or 0.3 per cent, to $31.28, National Australia Bank rose 12 cents, or 0.4 per cent, to $29.57 and ANZ closed two cents lower at $28.87.
Wesfarmers was down one per cent, at $44.22, after it announced an exit from its Curragh coal mine in Queensland, selling to US producer Coronado Coal for $700 million.
Mr Spooner said a negative reaction to the Wesfarmers coal sale provided some drag on the market.
Supermarket rival Woolworths was also lower, down 0.3 per cent to $27.35.
Meanwhile, an Australian dollar backed by stronger commodity prices pushed through the 77 US cent mark in a healthy 24 hours for the local currency, hitting its best level since early November.
At 1630 AEDT on Friday, the Australian dollar was worth 77.14 US cents, up from 76.60 US cents on Thursday.
ON THE ASX AT 1630 AEDT:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 9.3 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 6,069.7 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 11 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 6,167.3 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was up 11 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 6,026 points.
* National turnover was 3.2 billion securities traded worth $6.8 billion