Australian shares have closed higher for the second consecutive day, with broad-based gains led by the miners and supported by the energy and financial sectors.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index gained 32.3 points, or 0.54 per cent, to 6,057.3 points, while the broader All Ordinaries added 32 points, or 0.52 per cent, to 6,169.4 points.
Commsec chief market analyst Steven Daghlian said the Australian share market had jumped between positive and negative territory for weeks but Thursday marked the second day in a row of gains.
“We are on a two-day winning streak, which hasn’t actually happened in a month,” he said.
Higher iron ore, copper and aluminium prices bolstered the miners, with BHP Billiton alone injecting more than seven points into the market as it climbed 2.1 per cent to $34.08.
Rival Rio Tinto lifted 2.3 per cent to $85.97, while Fortescue Metals dipped 1.3 per cent to $4.74 after securing a 19.9 per cent interest – effectively a blocking stake – in junior iron ore miner and takeover target Atlas Iron.
Despite a slide in oil prices sparked by concerns global supply is climbing, the energy sector performed strongly, led by Santos jumping 3.8 per cent to $6.00 and Origin Energy, up 2.1 per cent to $9.85.
Financials were among the best-performing stocks with the exception of AMP, which tumbled 2.6 per cent to $3.62 after news of a fourth shareholder class action over scandals revealed at the banking royal commission.
ANZ led the major banks, up 0.8 per cent to $26.73, followed by Westpac, which added 0.6 per cent to $27.69, National Australia Bank, up two cents to $26.40 and the Commonwealth Bank, gaining three cents to $69.26.
In company news, Inghams Group plummeted 9.1 per cent to $3.72 after chief executive Mick McMahon announced he will step down after four years at the helm of the poultry producer.
Wesfarmers rose 1.8 per cent to $46.48 after telling investors the company would focus on organic growth and confirming its current dividend payout ratio should be maintained after the demerger of Coles, slated for completion in financial year 2019.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar retained most of its gains from Wednesday, when it was at its highest level for more than six weeks following better-than-expected March quarter GDP growth.
The local currency was trading at 76.53 US cents at 1630 AEST on Thursday, from 76.54 US cents on Wednesday.
ON THE ASX:
*The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 32.3 points, or 0.54 per cent, to 6,057.3 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 32 points, or 0.52 per cent, to 6,169.4 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was up 37 points, or 0.61 per cent, at 6,061 points at 1630 AEST
* National turnover was 5.3 billion securities traded worth $5.6 billion
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 76.47 US cents, from 76.54 on Wednesday
* 84.15 Japanese yen, from 84.20 yen
* 64.77 euro cents, from 65.28 euro cents
* 56.90 British pence, from 57.10 pence
* 108.52 NZ cents, from 108.52 cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,296.95 per fine ounce, from $US1,297.72 per fine ounce on Wednesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020 at 2.2237pct, from 2.1852pct
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027at 2.844 pct, from 2.7611pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.155 (implying a yield of 2.845pct), from 97.235 (implying a yield of 2.765pct) on Wednesday
* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.735 (2.265pct), from 97.775 (2.225pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEST previous local session)