Australian shares have rebounded to close higher for another day, the last official day of earnings season.

After being down in the morning, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 18.7 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 6,169 points at 1615 AEDT on Thursday.

The broader All Ordinaries was up 19.1 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 6,252.7.

The ASX has now closed higher eight of the last 10 sessions.

The health care sector led gainers, moving up 2.61 per cent after Ramsay Health Care reported increased profit.

Ramsay moved up 5.9 per cent.

Financials were up 0.79 per cent, with all of the big banks in the green.

Two stocks that have been under pressure – biotechnology company CSL and National Australia Bank – were among the best performers in the two sectors, said CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy.

“It does point to the idea that there’s bargain hunting,” he said.

CSL gained 3.1 per cent and NAB was up 1.29 per cent.

On the flip side, miners struggled after the price of iron ore dropped, with South32 down 1.01 per cent and BHP down 1.19 per cent after announcing changes to its leadership team.

Fortescue Metals closed down 5.16 per cent after going ex-dividend.

Woolworths also went ex-dividend, falling 1.1 per cent.

Rio Tinto closed up 1.09 per cent after reporting late on Wednesday its highest annual underlying earnings since 2014, and announcing a special dividend.

Harvey Norman closed up 1.12 per cent after it lifted first-half profit 7.3 per cent to $222.8 million, despite weak sales at its Australian franchises.

Ingham’s Group was down 8.18 per cent after it said first-half profit increased more than 28 per cent.

Adelaide Brighton was down 4.42 per cent after the building firm said it expects a decline in demand in the residential sector.

Bubs closed 5.08 per cent lower after the infant formula maker reported its first-half loss more than doubled to $8.8 million as it invested in scaling up to meet demand from China.

With earnings season now officially concluded, Mr McCarthy said he’d argue it was overall “slightly disappointing” with softer earnings than expected.

Still the ASX ended the month 5.19 per cent higher than where it began.

One theme for the season was short-sellers being a key driver of volatility for heavily shorted stocks such as Galaxy Resources, Mr McCarthy said.

Eyes will now turn to macroeconomic issues and the prospect of a long-term agreement to end the US-China trade war, he said.

President Donald Trump last weekend announced the talks were making progress and he delayed a scheduled increase in tariffs on China that had been set for Friday.

The Aussie dollar is buying 71.44 US cents, from 71.87 US cents on Wednesday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 18.7 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 6,169 points at 1630 AEDT on Thursday.

* The All Ordinaries was up 19.1 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 6,252.7

* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down five points, to 6144.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 71.44 US cents, from 71.87 US on Thursday

* 79.24 Japanese yen, from 79.48

* 62.81 euro cents, from 63.17

* 53.71 British pence, from 54.26

* 104.36 NZ cents, from 104.30


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1318.70 per fine ounce, from $US1329.38 on Thursday.