Banking and telco stocks have lifted the Australian share market to close slightly higher despite lower commodity prices weighing down the energy and materials sectors.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 3.3 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 5942.4 points on Thursday while the broader All Ordinaries was up 2.9 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 6050.0.
The ASX was down 0.3 per cent at noon, but the financial sector led a late rally with buyers wanting to cash in on dividends, CommSec chief market analyst Steven Daghlian said.
“This is ahead of profit results from many of the banks and ex dividend dates for Bank of Queensland, NAB, ANZ, Macquarie and Westpac,” he said.
The major banks reversed early losses, led by Commonwealth Bank leading the gains, up 0.5 per cent to $67.22, and ANZ had the least, up 0.3 per cent to $25.88.
Telco stocks were also buoyant, closing 2.3 per cent higher with Telstra climbing 3.3 per cent to $3.16.
Local energy companies had good news to tell their annual general meetings, but sliding oil prices still dragged the sector down 0.2 per cent.
Woodside Petroleum, which on Thursday reported a 25 per cent jump in third-quarter revenue, was down 0.8 per cent to $36.00, while shares in gas giant Santos were down despite achieving its debt target ahead of schedule and reporting a 22.7 per cent jump in third-quarter revenue.
The materials sector also weighed heavily, with BHP down 1.4 per cent to $33.20, having reported at its annual general meeting in London it had not seen a material impact from current global trade tensions.
Like the banks, South32 reversed early losses to climb 0.8 per cent higher to $3.85 after its first-quarter coking coal output more than tripled from the same year-ago period.
Market darling and biotech CSL was down 2.2 per cent to $188.81, pulling the health care sector 1.5 per cent lower.
The Australian dollar got a boost after data showed the jobless rate fell to its lowest since 2012.
Australia’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.0 per cent in September but the entire decline was due to a sharp drop in people looking for work while employment disappointed with a modest net rise of 5600 in the month.
The Aussie was buying 71.24 US cents at 1630 AEDT, from 71.35 US cents on Wednesday.
ON THE ASX:
* The S&P/ASX200 was up 3.3 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 5942.4 points
* The All Ordinaries was up 2.9 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 6050.0
* In futures trading the SPI200 futures index was down five points, or 0.08 per cent, at 5922.0 points at 1630 AEDT.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 71.24 US cents, from 71.35 US cents on Wednesday
* 80.15 Japanese yen, from 80.07
* 61.99 euro cents, from 61.78
* 54.44 British pence, from 54.20
* 108.76 NZ cents, from 108.41
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1222.34 per fine ounce, from $US1220.93 on Wednesday.