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SYDNEY, AAP – The ASX200 has closed at its highest level since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, while an analyst tips it could exceed 7000 points as soon as next week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index powered above 6900 points early in Wednesday trade and, after a mid-session dip, closed up 42.1 points, or 0.61 per cent, to 6928 points.

It is the highest level the index has closed at since world health leaders declared the pandemic on March 11 last year.

The All Ordinaries on Wednesday closed higher 43.5 points, or 0.61 per cent, to 7177.4.

All sectors were higher. Energy fared best, up 1.44 per cent.

Bell Direct market analyst Jessica Amir said better than expected economic growth continued to help share market momentum.

She cited the International Monetary Fund outlook, which forecast Australia’s economy to grow 4.5 per cent this year.

Elsewhere, the Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association performance of construction index produced the strongest monthly result in the index’s history. It climbed 4.4 points to 61.8 for March.

Ms Amir said the ASX200 was likely to close above 7000 points in the next week or so.

Yet investors should trade carefully.

“You can’t just buy any old stock and think it will go up because the market is going up,” Ms Amir said.

“I’m suggesting investors select stocks that are cheaper than they were this time last year but are still seeing signficant upside.”

ASX investors shook off a negative lead from Wall Street, where markets closed lower.

Investors in US markets weighed strong economic data against nervousness about upcoming quarterly earnings reports.

US job openings rose in February to a two-year high while hiring picked up. The data followed Friday’s strong payrolls report.

Investors are looking forward to the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting.

In Australia, car sales improved, year on year. The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries said 100,005 new cars and trucks were sold last month.

That is 18,315 more than in March last year before the worst of the coronavirus-induced downturn.

On the ASX, cancer treatment specialist Imugene soared 19.23 per cent to 15 cents after it said it was progressing trials of its immunotherapy to treat tumors such as lung cancer.

Imugene has been trialling dosages of its PD1-Vaxx candidate at cancer centres in Australia and the US.

These early stages ensure a treatment is effective without causing adverse reactions.

EML Payments was a big mover early, and closed higher by 5.45 per cent to $5.42.

EML said it will buy European payments provider Sentenial for $108.6 million and enter the open banking market there.

Company leaders said the purchase would help broaden EML’s offerings to include more non-card payments.

Alliance Aviation Services said it has extended its charter flights deal with BHP WA Iron Ore for two years.

The aviation group provides flights in and out of the Pilbara region of Western Australia for the mining giant’s workers.

Shares were down 1.12 per cent to $4.40.

In mining, Rio Tinto had the most notable performance of the big three. Shares rose 1.18 per cent to $113.44.

In banking, the big four as well as Bendigo all rose less than 0.6 per cent.

On Thursday, the owner of Westfield shopping centres in Australia and New Zealand, Scentre Group, will hold its annual general meeting.

The Australian dollar was buying 76.41 US cents at 1711 AEST, lower from 76.55 US cents at Tuesday’s close.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 42.1 points, or 0.61 per cent, to 6928 points on Wednesday.

* The All Ordinaries closed higher 43.5 points, or 0.61 per cent, to 7177.4.

* At 1711 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was unchanged at 6899 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 76.41 US cents, from 76.55 cents on Tuesday

* 83.91 Japanese yen, from 84.18 yen

* 64.33 Euro cents, from 64.62 cents

* 55.38 British pence, from 54.98 pence

* 108.54 NZ cents, from 108.52 cents.