SYDNEY, AAP – Shares have been broadly higher on the ASX after the Reserve Bank stuck to its rate hike forecast of 2024 in its monetary policy statement.

The market on Friday was continuing one of its best weeks in months despite the Australian and US central banks starting to remove pandemic stimulus.

The miners contributed most to gains in the current session. Rio Tinto and Fortescue were higher by more than one per cent, while BHP was up about one per cent.

Telecommunications and utilities were next best.

The Reserve Bank said an interest rate rise in 2023 was plausible, but only if inflation and wages growth exceeded expectations.

The central bank said the economy was recovering rapidly from the Delta outbreak.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was higher by 44.8 points, or 0.60 per cent, to 7472.8 at 1200 AEDT.

The All Ordinaries was up 47 points, or 0.60 per cent, to 7793.3.

On Wall Street overnight, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq had record-high closes for a sixth consecutive session.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in nearly 20 months, suggesting the economy was regaining momentum.

Investors will have a better view of the economy when the monthly jobs report is published tonight.

On the ASX, financial markets technology provider Link was surging after a takeover offer.

Investment fund Carlyle Asia Partners has offered about $5.38 per share.

The Link board said it would consider the offer and had suspended its on-market share buyback.

Shares were up almost 11 per cent to $4.80.

Qantas said there had been a surge in travel demand and confidence as local and international borders reopened.

The national carrier had close to half-a-million domestic bookings in the past two weeks, chief executive Alan Joyce told shareholders as NSW and Victoria reopened borders after reaching milestones in COVID-19 vaccination.

Shares were down almost one per cent to $5.60.

Sigma Healthcare has withdrawn its offer for Priceline Pharmacy-owned Australian Pharmaceutical Industries.

Wesfarmers last month bought a 19.3 per cent stake in API, which strengthened its fixed offer of $1.55 per share.

Sigma had a live offer of 35 cents and 2.05 Sigma shares for each API one.

Sigma shares were up 2.75 per cent to 56 cents.

API shares were down 0.33 per cent to $1.50.

BlueScope Steel has bought the main supplier of scrap feed to its US mini-mill, North Star.

The company will pay $US240 million for two MetalX sites, which provide about 20 per cent of scrap used by North Star.

Shares were up about half a per cent to $20.58.

Investors were impressed by real estate advertising provider REA Group’s first quarter.

Sales and earnings were each up more than 20 per cent, despite recent coronavirus lockdowns in some states.

Home listings across Australia in October climbed 16 per cent on the same month last year. However, the company warned regulator measures to slow house price inflation could affect these figures.

Shares were up more than seven per cent to $179.83.

In banking, Westpac shares traded ex-dividend and dropped 2.5 per cent, NAB and the Commonwealth rose by more than one per cent, and ANZ climbed 0.34 per cent.

Property developer GPT Group continued to withhold its full-year earnings forecast due to the coronavirus situation.

Retail sales were down about 50 per cent in the September quarter due to lockdowns in the ACT, NSW and Victoria.

Boss Bob Johnston said the group was trying to bolster its logistics business through acquisitions.

Shares were up 0.77 per cent to $5.22.

The Australian dollar was buying 74.00 US cents at 1200 AEDT, lower from 74.42 cents at Thursday’s close.