SYDNEY, AAP – ASX shares have had their best day in four weeks after oil prices eased from lofty heights and hopes rose for an end to war in Ukraine.
The market on Thursday rose 1.1 per cent after the United Arab Emirates pledged to provide more oil while nations boycott Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
World markets were also boosted by Ukraine saying it is willing to be neutral in return for a security guarantee. Foreign leaders of the two warring nations are due to meet soon.
The optimism helped most ASX share categories close higher.
Technology shares were best and rose three per cent.
Afterpay owner Block jumped seven per cent to $151.24.
There were gains of two per cent for industrials, consumer discretionaries, healthcare, financials and property.
The commodity categories of energy and materials had the only notable falls.
Energy shares fell two per cent after a welcome slide in the oil price for the global economy.
The Brent crude price dropped to $US113.39 per barrel. Brent traded for $US130.65 per barrel a day earlier.
Oil and gas giant Woodside fell four per cent to $31.65.
Travel stocks benefited from lower oil prices.
Corporate Travel Management, Qantas and Webjet each gained five per cent.
Rising fuel prices have been contributing to inflation and ANZ Bank economists tipped Australian annual inflation would verge on five per cent in the second quarter.
In the US, February inflation data is due overnight and analysts have tipped the numbers could be close to eight per cent annually.
At the end of the ASX trading day, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 77.8 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 7130.8 points.
The index is about 500 points from its record high in August last year.
The All Ordinaries index closed higher by 79.1 points, or 1.08 per cent, to 7410.9 points.
In stock news, Myer shareholders will receive their first dividend in four years after first-half sales improved.
The department store chain declared first-half sales rose by eight per cent to $1.5 billion for the 26 weeks to January 29.
Net profit was down 55 per cent to $32.3 million although the retailer said the statutory number was not the best measure of profitability.
Myer was up 24 per cent to 51 cents.
Investors saw the benefits in buy now, pay later provider Sezzle slashing about 20 per cent of its workforce in North America.
The company, which is being purchased by Zip, said the reduction was needed to save $US10 million and help achieve profit.
Sezzle was up eight per cent to $1.59.
Data analytics software vendor Nuix is dealing with another class action.
A law firm representing shareholders claims there were errors in Nuix’s prospectus and revenue forecasts.
Two other class actions about similar matters have already been filed, while corporate regulator ASIC continues investigating.
Nuix was higher by one per cent to $1.28.
The big miners were lower. Rio Tinto fell most as it traded ex-dividend. Shares dropped seven per cent to $110.61.
The banks all fared much better. There were gains of three per cent for Bank of Queensland, Bendigo, NAB and Westpac.
Looking ahead, the European Central Bank will meet overnight to consider rates and policy.
The Australian dollar was buying 73.31 US cents at 1726 AEDT, more than the 72.83 US cents at Wednesday’s close.
ON THE ASX
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 77.8 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 7130.8 points on Thursday.
* The All Ordinaries index closed higher by 79.1 points, or 1.08 per cent, to 7410.9 points.
* At 1726 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was down one point, or 0.01 per cent, to 7130 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 73.31 US cents, from 72.83 cents on Wednesday
* 85.05 Japanese yen, from 84.37 yen
* 66.27 Euro cents, from 66.71 cents
* 55.62 British pence, from 55.54 pence
* 107.18 NZ cents, from 107.00 cents.