The Australian share market is at its highest level in more than 10 years, with significant gains across most sectors as investors looked past fears of a looming trade war between the US and China.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 59.5 points, or 0.96 per cent, at 6,232.1 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 58.3 points, or 0.93 per cent, at 6,332.9 points.
Following on from strong leads overnight in overseas markets, local shares opened higher and continued to climb throughout the day.
Consumer stocks rose on Thursday, as the federal Coalition government’s $144 billion income tax cuts package cleared Parliament around noon.
Under the first of three stages in the plan, low- and middle-income earners will get tax relief of up to $530 a year from July 1, while benefits for people earning up to $200,000 come into effect in 2024.
Woolworths ended the day up 1.8 per cent, or 5.3 cents at $29.94, while Coles supermarkets owner Wesfarmers was up 2.6 per cent, or $1.25 to $48.78.
Penfolds wine maker Treasury Wine Estates and poker machine maker Aristocrat Leisure were up too as companies with significant operations overseas, and therefore an exposure to changes in exchange rates, benefited from a lower Aussie dollar.
AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said he was surprised by the strong day given the continuing stand-off between the US and China over tariffs in the wake of new imposts worth $US200 billion on Chinese goods threatened by US President Donald Trump.
“It is a bit surprising the market has gone up,” he said.
“I would have thought Australia is fairly sensitive to a trade war, particularly with China.”
“If it does eventuate, I think the Australian market would take a bit of a hit.”
The Australian dollar remains under pressure as trade tensions simmer, trading at 73.49 US cents at 1700 AEST, from 73.99 on Wednesday – it’s lowest level since January 2017.
Telstra suffered losses for the second day in a row after announcing a restructure on Wednesday that includes slashing 8000 jobs.
The telco was down 1.8 per cent at $2.72.
In other company news, private hospital operator Ramsay Health Care ended down 7.5 per cent at $57.49 after it downgraded its full year earnings guidance due to weaker growth in patient numbers and medical procedures.
The company has also warned it will take a $125 million charge on its UK operations due to onerous leases or asset writedowns.
The big four banks were all stronger, led by Commonwealth Bank’s gain of 1.4 per cent at $72.90, while BHP Billiton is the strongest of the big miners, up 0.5 per cent at $32.76.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed up 59.5 points, or 0.96 per cent, at 6,232.1 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 58.3 points, or 0.93 per cent, at 6,332.9 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was up 56 points, or 0.91 per cent, at 6,181 points
* National turnover was 3.7 billion securities traded worth $9.8 billion
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 73.49 US cents, from 73.99 US cents on Wednesday
* 81.30 Japanese yen, from 81.51 yen
* 63.68 euro cents, from 63.97 euro cents
* 55.97 British pence, from 56.25 pence
* 107.61 NZ cents, from 107.20 cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,262.71 per fine ounce, from $US1,273.21 per fine ounce on Wednesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
* CGS 4.50 per cent May 2021, 2021, 2.1267pct, from 2.1109pct on Wednesday
* CGS 4.75pct May 2028, 2.6762pct, from 2.6564pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* September 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.31 (implying a yield of 2.69pct), from 97.335 (2.665pct) on Wednesday
* September 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.85 (2.15pct), from 97.865 (2.135pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEST previous local session)