The Australian share market has pushed off from the depths of recent lows and closed higher for the first time this week due to broad-based gains to the indices’ major sectors.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 48.5 points, or 0.86 per cent, at 5691.3 on Thursday, while the broader All Ordinaries rose 0.84 per cent.

After four consecutive days of losses, Pepperstone head of research Chris Weston said the high volumes traded on Thursday suggests an element of bargain hunting took place.

“As a result of the drop in price in a lot of these sectors, if you believe the earnings are correct then this market is offering real value,” he told AAP.

“You’re starting to see people dip their toe in the water and a few value buys bravely putting money back in and that’s maybe centred in health care as well.”

The health care sector climbed more than two-and-a-half per cent, lifted by biotech CSL, up 3.4 per cent to $184.81, and Cochlear, which rose 2.9 per cent to $167.29.

Sonic Healthcare, Ramsay, ResMed and Fisher and Paykel also all pushed ahead.

Energy stocks, which had lost more than five per cent for the week before Thursday, lifted on the back of an overnight oil price recovery.

Origin Energy lifted 2.4 per cent to $6.79, while Woodside, Oil Search, Santos, and Caltex also edged higher.

The financial sector extended earlier gains with ANZ the strongest of the big four lenders, up 1.3 per cent to $25.75, while Westpac was the weakest, up 0.4 per cent to $25.68.

The miners were buoyant despite BHP paring back gains, up 0.6 per cent to $31.78, Rio Tinto losing 0.4 per cent to $77.02, and iron ore dipping again.

Fortescue Metals and BlueScope Steel rose one and 2.3 per cent respectively.

But Mineral Resources was the sector’s star, shooting up 26.6 per cent to $15.76 after striking a deal with Albemarle Corp, the world’s top lithium producer, which agreed to pay $US1.15 billion to form a lithium joint venture with the Australian miner.

After floating on the exchange as a separate entity on Thursday, Coles was flat at $12.75 and its former conglomerate Wesfarmers was down again, losing two per cent to $31.32 as it continues to adjust to trading without the supermarket giant in its stable.

The Australian dollar was steady, buying 72.53 US cents at 1630 AEDT compared to 72.31 US cents on Wednesday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed was up 48.5 points, or 0.86 per cent, at 5691.3

* The All Ordinaries closed up 48.2 points, or 0.84 per cent, at 5770.3

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up 53 points, or 0.94 per cent, at 5695.0


One Australian dollar buys:

* 72.52 US cents, from 72.31 US cents cents on Wednesday

* 81.94 Japanese yen, from 81.62

* 63.62 euro cents, from 63.55

* 56.72 British pence, from 56.51

* 106.51 NZ cents, from 106.29


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1,227.12 per fine ounce, up from $US1,221.13 on Wednesday.