Higher commodity prices have boosted local material and energy stocks, and pushed the Australian share market to close higher.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 19.9 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 6146.1 points on Wednesday, while the broader All Ordinaries index was 19.4 points, or 0.31 per cent higher at 6265.2 points.
CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said commodity-related stocks led the market after strong oil and metal prices overnight.
“Looking at both sectors and sub-sectors, five of the top six are materials and energy-related,” he said.
BHP rose 1.1 per cent to $35.08, Rio Tinto up 1.8 per cent to $79.50, and South32 Ltd up 1.3 per cent to $3.96, but Fortescue Metals was down 4.1 per cent to $3.72.
Rising precious metals, which proved a safe-haven for risk-averse investors overnight, saw local gold miners register the strongest gains, including Newcrest Mining, up 3.3 per cent to $19.72, Northern Star, up 4.4 per cent to $8.73, and Evolution, up 3.8 per cent to $2.73.
Oil prices cooled but were still close to four-year highs, pushing the energy sector up 0.8 per cent.
Caltex, Origin Energy, Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search Ltd were all in the green.
Consumer, health care and telco stocks all closed higher, while the financial sector continued its poor run and closed lower.
Commonwealth Bank was the only big four bank to close higher, up 0.06 per cent to $69.61, while NAB suffered the biggest decline, down 0.7 per cent to $27.20.
Shares of Myer Holdings jumped as much as 8.8 per cent after its largest shareholder Premier Investments Ltd, chaired by billionaire Solomon Lew, asked the retailer for a list of its owners, fuelling speculation of a takeover offer.
It then eased, closing nearly two per cent higher at 52 cents.
The Australian dollar pared some losses on Wednesday as jitters over Italy’s budget deficit calmed a little and prompted a pullback in safe havens such as the yen.
It got a mild lift after reports the Italian government planned to reduce its budget deficit to two per cent of gross domestic product by 2021, rather than leave it at 2.4 per cent.
Markets have been unsettled by speculation a widening deficit might pressure Italy’s commitment to the European Union, leading investors to sell euros for dollars and yen.
The Aussie was buying 71.81 US cents, down from 71.99 US cents on Tuesday.
ON THE ASX:
* The S&P/ASX200 was up 19.9 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 6146.1 points
* The All Ordinaries was 19.4 points, or 0.31 per cent, higher at 6265.2 points
* In futures trading the SPI200 futures index was up 25 points, or 0.41 per cent, at 6142.0 points at 1630 AEST.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 71.81 US cents, from 71.99 US cents on Tuesday.
* 81.70 Japanese yen, from 81.90
* 62.01 euro cents, from 62.40
* 55.22 British pence, from 55.35
* 109.12 NZ cents, from 109.18
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEST was $US1203.68 per fine ounce, from $US1193.61 on Tuesday.