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SYDNEY, AAP – Shares were higher on the Australian market, while the Aussie dollar jumped after the economy grew by more than expected in the December quarter.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was higher by 44.4 points, or 0.65 per cent, to 6806.7 at 1200 AEDT on Wednesday.

The All Ordinaries was higher by 43.6 points, or 0.62 per cent, at 7053.5.

Materials was the standout sector, higher by 2.47 per cent, after iron ore prices rose.

The other heavyweight sector, financials, was better by 0.63 per cent.

The biggest loss was in information technology, which dropped 1.87 per cent after tech stocks fell on US markets.

Technology companies including Apple and Tesla pulled US markets lower as investors bought stock in sectors expected to make greater improvement as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.46 per cent to close at 31,391.52 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.81 per cent to 3,870.29. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.69% to 13,358.79.

In Australia, the economy grew by 3.1 per cent in the December quarter, continuing the strong rebound from last year’s recession.

The result was much stronger than the expected gross domestic product gain of 2.5 per cent.

Consumer spending, as COVID-19 restrictions eased, was a key driver, particularly in Victoria after its lengthy lockdown ended.

The Aussie dollar was buying 78.25 US cents moments before the news, then rose to 78.38 US cents, equal to its highest value on Wednesday.

On the ASX, miner Rio Tinto said Simon Thompson will step down as chairman, following investor pressure over the destruction of two ancient Aboriginal rock shelters for an iron ore mine last year.

Thompson will resign following next year’s annual general meetings, while non-executive director Michael L’Estrange will also retire from the board after this year’s meetings, Rio said in a statement.

Shares were higher by 1.5 per cent to $129.10.

BHP had a 2.89 per cent gain to $50.55, Fortescue rose 4.25 per cent to $22.53, and South32 jumped 4.92 per cent to $2.87.

In banking, ANZ was up 1.22 per cent to $27.22, the Commonwealth was higher by 0.41 per cent to $84.84, NAB climbed 1.22 per cent to $25.57 and Westpac rose 1.09 per cent to $24.42.

Nine’s new chief executive is Mike Sneesby.

He will replace Hugh Marks who said in November he was leaving the media and entertainment group after five years in the top job.

Mr Sneesby, 46, has been the CEO of Nine’s Stan Entertainment streaming business since its began more than seven years ago.

Shares were better by 0.97 per cent to $3.10.

One of the biggest declines among large companies belonged to Bell Financial Group.

The company, which provides investment advice and stockbroking, traded ex-dividend and lost 6.37 per cent to $1.83.

The Australian dollar was buying 78.32 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 77.55 US cents at Tuesday’s close.