Banking and health care stocks lifted the Australian share market higher, while the energy sector also pushed ahead despite weak oil prices.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 31.3 points higher, or 0.53 per cent, at 5928.2 on Thursday, while the broader All Ordinaries rose 0.57 per cent.
The local indices continue to correct after falling more than six per cent in October, but Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said earnings growth has peaked and share markets around the world will moderate from these levels.
“The bigger question for the market is whether we’re seeing growth rolling over and that would have implications for growth-related sectors such as the materials and energy sectors,” she told AAP.
Oil prices are down about five per cent this month and this is usually an indication global growth is slowing, Ms Lee said.
Despite these weaker prices, the energy sector had its third straight day in the black on Thursday with Woodside Petroleum, Oil Search and Origin Energy all up between 0.5 and 1.3 per cent.
But the miners reversed earlier gains to close more than half a per cent lower, dragged down by BHP, 0.2 per cent lower at $33.33, and South 32, down 0.6 per cent to $3.64, while Rio Tinto was 0.3 per cent higher at $81.48.
The gold miners were mostly down on softer precious metal prices.
The big four banks all had strong gains except NAB, which went ex-dividend on Thursday, fell 3.6 per cent to $24.93.
ANZ was in front of its major rivals, climbing 2.3 per cent to $27.05, while Commonwealth Bank and Westpac were both up 1.8 per cent.
The competition watchdog announced on Thursday that it will allow Fairfax Media’s $4 billion merger with Nine Entertainment to go ahead after deciding the move would not diminish competition in Australian news and media.
Shares in both companies closed flat, Fairfax at 62.5 cents and Nine at $1.68.
News Corp shares rose 4.2 per cent to $19.29 with the announcement it had lifted first-quarter profit 48.5 per cent to $US101 million ($A138.8 million) despite a seven per cent fall in revenue at its Australian newspapers.
The infotech sector was bolstered by ‘buy now, pay later’ provider Afterpay which soared 11.1 per cent to $14.45 after announcing it had signed up 300,000 consumers in the US in less than six months.
In companies news, James Hardie shares plummeted by more than 14 per cent to $16.90 after it cut its full year forecast range citing uncertain conditions in the United States.
The Australian dollar got a small boost from stronger-than-expected data from its top trading partner China, where exports sprung 15.6 per cent in October from a year earlier and imports expanded 21.4 per cent, both handily beating expectations.
The Aussie was buying 72.82 US cents at 1630, from 72.59 US cents on Wednesday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed 31.3 points higher, or 0.53 per cent, at 5928.2
* The All Ordinaries was 33.8 points higher, or 0.57 per cent, at 6015.8
* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up 49 points, or 0.84 per cent, at 5912.0 points
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 72.82 US cents, from 72.59 US cents on Wednesday
* 82.79 Japanese yen, from 82.23
* 63.72 euro cents, from 63.37
* 55.47 British pence, from 55.30
* 107.22 NZ cents, from 107.31
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1224.11 per fine ounce, from $US1228.92 on Wednesday.