The Australian share market has gained ground as news of potential exemptions for some countries from proposed US tariffs on imported steel and aluminium eased concerns about a trade war.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 0.7 per cent at 5,942.9 points at 1630 AEDT, as the energy and mining sectors were the only areas of weakness.
Phillip Capital senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said the gains followed confirmation from the White House that Canada and Mexico, and other countries, may be exempt from a 25 per cent tariff on imported steel and and a 10 per cent tariff on imported aluminium.
The concession means investors are feeling more reassured that a domino effect of retaliatory trade measures will not break out at any moment, he said.
“Today it is looking more like a small scale guerilla insurgency rather than an all out trade war,” Mr Heffernan said.
Gains on the local market were widespread.
All four major banks rose, with Commonwealth Bank posting the strongest gain, of 1.4 per cent.
In the health sector, CSL added 1.3 per cent and Cochlear rose 1.2 per cent.
Among the best performers on the market were online jobs portal SEEK, up three per cent, poker machine developer Aristocrat Leisure gained 3.2 per cent and A2 Milk surged 4.7 per cent.
Moderating oil and commodity prices left the resource stocks mixed, and BHP Billiton was trading ex-dividend, falling two per cent.
Rio Tinto added 0.6 per cent and Fortescue Metals gained 2.1 per cent.
The Australian dollar got a slight lift from figures showing a larger than expected trade surplus in January.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 40.9 points, or 0.69 per cent, at 5,942.9 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 41.2 points, or 0.69 per cent, at 6,046.6 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was up 42 points, or 0.71 per cent, at 5,939 points
* National turnover was 3.7 billion securities traded worth $6.4 billion
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 78.26 US cents, from 78.01 US cents on Wednesday
* 82.94 Japanese yen, from 82.43 yen
* 63.09 euro cents, from 62.82 euro cents
* 56.31 British pence, from 56.20 pence
* 107.40 NZ cents, from 107.06 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,326.86 per fine ounce, from $US1,322.95 per fine ounce on Wednesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.9914pct, from 1.9881pct on Wednesday
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.7488pct, from 2.7391pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.21 (implying a yield of 2.79pct), from 97.22 (2.78pct) on Wednesday
* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.895 (2.105pct), from 97.9 (2.1pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)