SYDNEY, AAP – Mining and materials shares have soared on the Australian market and helped it to a record high.
Market giants BHP and Rio Tinto were up by 1.91 and 1.69 per cent at 1200 AEST on Wednesday after iron ore prices steadied overnight. Fortescue gained 0.83 per cent.
Materials shares have had lacklustre performances in recent days due to a slump in iron ore prices.
Energy shares were next best and rose 0.72 per cent.
Healthcare shares had the biggest losses. CSL dropped 1.29 per cent to $290.51.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was higher by 14.7 points, or 0.19 per cent, to 7489.2.
The index earlier achieved its best level in history of 7509.2.
The All Ordinaries was up 15.8 points, or 0.20 per cent, to 7766.3.
US markets closed higher as an upbeat corporate earnings season pleased investors.
Apple and healthcare stocks drove most of the gains.
Shares in video game companies fell after a steep sell-off in China’s social media and video games group Tencent.
Investors are worried the industry could be Chinese regulators’ next target, following new rules for education providers.
In Australia, Queensland leaders warned the virus lockdown in the state’s southeast may be extended beyond Sunday.
There were 16 more infections reported, after the NSW outbreak earlier found its way north.
On the ASX, Genworth Mortgage Insurance reported a first-half earnings gain after a loss in the same period last year.
Low interest rates and a booming housing market helped a first-half net profit after tax of $59.4 million.
Shareholders will receive an interim payout of five cents per share. They received nothing at the same time last year.
Shares were up 8.49 per cent to $2.30.
Air New Zealand lowered its earnings forecast for the financial year due to suspended travel arrangements between Australia and New Zealand.
The airline forecast losses before significant items and tax to worsen from the previously stated $NZ450 million to $NZ530 million.
The New Zealand government suspended quarantine-free travel between the two countries from July 23 for eight weeks due to outbreaks in Australia.
Shares were unchanged at $1.41.
Wesfarmers shares have traded for the most in their history, $62.76.
The company has recently tried to buy Australian Pharmaceutical Industries but has so far been unsuccessful.
Shares were higher by 0.54 per cent to $62.55.
In banking, the only one of the big four banks higher was the Commonwealth.
Its shares rose 0.37 per cent to $101.83.
Afterpay’s momentum this week appeared to have subsided.
Shares were up 0.19 per cent to $128.10.
Afterpay had whopping gains on Monday and Tuesday following US payment provider Square’s takeover offer.
The Australian dollar was buying 74.03 US cents at 1200 AEST, higher from 73.92 US cents at Tuesday’s close.