Australian shares have ended higher, with the benchmark index closing above 6,000 points for the first time since February 5, supported by solid company results and rising bank stocks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended Monday up 42.4 points, or 0.71 per cent, at 6,042.2 points, with investors encouraged by earnings results in the current Australian reporting season.
Macquarie Private Wealth division director Martin Lakos said beyond oil prices and US interest rates, the main driver for investors on Monday was the improving scenario in local corporate results after a mixed first half of the season.
“In the second half we are seeing good momentum and an improvement in the upgrades-to-downgrades ratio,” Mr Lakos said.
Global oil prices are at three week highs, after an earthquake in Papua New Guinea disrupted energy operations and following comments that reaffirm Saudi Arabia will likely continue restricting exports in line with OPEC supply strategies.
Mr Lakos said with demand rising and supply tightening, oil prices will only hold or climb in the coming weeks.
Woodside Petroleum lifted 1.8 per cent to $29.09, Origin Energy climbed 0.7 per cent to $9.22, while Oil Search lost 0.8 per cent to $7.50, and Santos was down 1.0 per cent at $5.07.
Alongside easing concerns around US interest rate hikes, Westpac led the big four banks with a 1.9 per cent gain, ANZ gained 1.4 per cent, National Australia Bank rose 1.3 per cent and Commonwealth Bank added 1.5 per cent.
With iron ore prices holding up, both BHP Billiton and Fortescue were ahead by 0.6 per cent, while Rio Tinto fell 0.3 per cent and South32 closed steady.
Gold miner Newcrest lost 1.2 per cent to $21.85, after it agreed to buy a 27.1 per cent strategic stake in Toronto-listed Lundin Gold valued at $A318 million.
Steel producer BlueScope lifted 2.3 per cent to $15.84 after its first-half net profit climbed 23 per cent to $441.2 million, helped by the recent changes to US corporate tax rates.
Insurer QBE ended 3.3 per cent lower at $10.38, despite the early flagging of its full-year $US1.25 billion ($A1.6 billion) loss, after a season of Californian wildfires and Caribbean hurricanes.
Amaysim closed at a record low of $1.465, down 3.9 per cent for the day, after the telecommunications and retail energy provider reported a first-half net loss of $2.37 million, down from an $8.3 million profit a year earlier.
Ardent Leisure lifted 2.9 per cent to $1.94 after the theme parks and entertainment company narrowed its first-half losses and said its flagship Dreamworld would trade profitably in the second half of the year
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar has steadily risen against its US counterpart.
The local currency was trading at 78.67 US cents at 1630 AEDT on Monday, from 78.24 US cents on Friday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished up 42.4 points, or 0.71 per cent, at 6,042.2
* The broader All Ordinaries index closed up 40.9 points, or 0.67 per cent, at 6,146.1 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was up 24 points, or 0.4 per cent, at 5,997 points.
* National turnover was 3.6 billion securities traded worth $7.4 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 78.78 US cents, from 78.24 on Friday
* 83.92 Japanese yen, from 83.70 yen
* 63.91 euro cents, from 63.60 euro cents
* 56.20 British pence, from 56.12 pence
* 107.39 NZ cents, from 107.22 cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,339.81 per fine ounce, from $US1,327.50 per fine ounce on Friday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.9551pct, from 1.9727pct
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.7179pct, from 2.7825pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.235 (implying a yield of 2.765pct), from 97.165 (implying a yield of 2.835pct) on Friday
* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.93 (2.07pct), from 97.90 (2.10pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)