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SYDNEY, AAP – Shares on the ASX200 have risen to their highest level since February last year, as the index moves towards its record high.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 40.3 points, or 0.57 per cent, to 7017.2 at 1200 AEST.

Earlier the index rose to a session high of 7017.8, as miners and healthcare stocks flourished.

The ASX200 record is 7197.2, set on February 20 last year, just before investors hurriedly sold shares due to fear of the coronavirus impact.

The All Ordinaries on Wednesday was higher by 45.2 points, or 0.62 per cent, to 7276.2 points.

The materials and healthcare sectors were playing major roles, higher by a little more than one per cent.

Information technology proved best, up 2.12 per cent.

In the US, the S&P 500 closed at a record high as investors shook off concerns about the halt in Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and strong US inflation.

The drugmaker’s shares closed down amid calls for pausing the use of its vaccine after six women developed blood clots.

The US consumer price index (CPI) in March rose by the most in more than eight years, kicking off what the majority of economists expect will be a brief period of higher inflation.

However solid demand for US bonds pushed down yields, and there was no major effect on shares.

The S&P 500 rose 13.60 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 4,141.59. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 68.13 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 33,677.27. The Nasdaq gained 146.10 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 13,996.10.

The US dollar dipped in the wake of the inflation data, and the Aussie dollar rose from buying 75 US cents to 76 US cents.

In Australia, consumer confidence has bloomed to an 11-year high, despite the unwinding of government support measures and stumbling progress on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The April Westpac-Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment survey shows confidence rose 6.2 per cent to the highest level since August 2010 – when the post-global financial crisis rebound and mining boom were in full swing.

On the ASX, gold miner Resolute Mining jumped 15.42 per cent to 54 cents after the Ghanaian government restored a mining lease for the company.

Ghanaian officials in March cancelled the lease for the Bibiani gold mine due to concerns about Resolute’s sale of the mine to Chinese company Chifeng Jilong Gold Mining for $US105 million.

However the Ghanaian officials have since restored the lease on conditions including that the government objects to the sale to Chifeng.

BrainChip, which is developing an artificial intelligence processor, surged 18.86 per cent to 63 cents after it said it had begun manufacturing its chip.

The company said the chips would be available in August.

The processors are intended for robotics, sensors, unmanned aircraft, autonomous cars and more.

Engineering group CIMIC held its annual general meeting and reiterated its forecast that full-year net profit after tax would be between $400 million and $430 million.

Shareholders will receive dividends worth between 60 and 65 per cent of net profit after tax.

Shares were higher by 2.09 per cent to $17.76.

The big miners were mixed despite the sector’s strength.

BHP was up 0.77 per cent to $46.04, Fortescue lagged 0.78 per cent to $20.20 and Rio Tinto climbed 0.57 per cent to $114.18.

In banking, the Commonwealth was best of the big four and rose 0.27 per cent to $87.43. The other three were down by less than half a per cent.

The Australian dollar was buying 76.46 US cents at 1200 AEST, higher from 76.13 US cents at Tuesday’s close.