The Australian share market has edged up to close higher, but the Aussie dollar took a dive after NAB joined its big four rivals in hiking its variable mortgage rates.

The local currency was up after new data revealed the unemployment rate fell, but NAB’s move immediately pushed the Aussie back down amid concern the RBA might cut rates later in the year.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 22 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 5,865.7 at 1630AEDT on Thursday, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 21.8 points, or 0.37 per cent, higher at 5,930.5.

At the close the Aussie dollar was buying 71.09 US cents, from 71.38 US cents on Wednesday.

“With the banks moving out of cycle from the RBA, and the way home prices are cooling, you have the RBA probably not wanting to exacerbate that particular situation,” CommSec markets analyst James Tao told AAP.

“The fact that banks are lifting rates on their own back might keep the RBA on the sidelines, or they might even cut rates, which is something that the market is starting to price in a lot more than it was six or 12 months ago.”

Australia’s major lenders all closed in the green, with NAB shares lifting 0.29 per cent to $24.58 after they announced they were raising standard variable rates for both owner-occupiers and investors.

Commonwealth Bank closed higher at 0.53 per cent to $72.51, ANZ was up at 0.82 per cent to $25.92 while Westpac Banking closed up 0.47 per cent to $25.72.

Major miners were the second biggest movers on the ASX on Thursday after several companies released their quarterly results reports.

Santos finished 3.86 per cent higher at $6.19 following their strong quarterly report, but not all shares in the sector fared as well.

Galaxy Resources finished lower at 6.25 per cent to $2.10, as did Evolution Mining down 4.13 per cent to $3.71, and Regis Resources down 2.63 per cent to $4.82.

Gold miners Northern Star and St Barbara both received broker downgrades after weak quarterly numbers, falling 5.41 per cent to $8.21, and 4.69 per cent to $4.47 respectively.

The energy sector was by far the strongest locally, rising 2.07 per cent as Santos jumped 3.86 per cent following the announcement its 2019 gas production could rise by up to 32 per cent.

The country’s number two independent gas producer has been boosted by the acquisition of Quadrant assets.

Caltex rose 1.25 per cent to $26.66, Origin Energy 1.84 per cent to $7.21 and Oil Search 1.87 per cent to $7.64.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 22 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 5,865.7 at 1630 AEDT on Thursday

* The All Ordinaries was up 21.8 points, or 0.37 per cent, higher at 5,930.5

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up 16 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 5,808


One Australian dollar buys:

* 71.05 US cents, from 71.38 US on Wednesday

* 77.85 Japanese yen, from 78.26

* 62.40 euro cents, from 62.81

* 54.35 British pence, from 55.12

* 104.87 NZ cents, from 105.25


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1,281.15 per fine ounce, from $US1,283.73 on Wednesday.