SYDNEY, AAP – Investors have enjoyed gains of 0.41 per cent after the ASX closed higher, helped by market giant BHP raising iron ore production targets and US stimulus expectations.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 27.8 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 6770.4 on Wednesday.
The All Ordinaries closed higher by 36 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 7051.0.
Information technology had the biggest gains, 2.54 per cent. Afterpay fetched a record $142.30 then closed higher by 5.22 per cent to $141.00. Cargo management software provider WiseTech Global closed up 4.81 per cent to $31.18.
The next best gains were in industrials (1.51 per cent) and energy (1.34 per cent).
The heavyweight materials sector rose 0.82 per cent after BHP raised its iron ore production target for the financial year.
Earlier, US markets closed higher after US Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen called on Congress to provide hefty stimulus. Incoming president Joe Biden will be sworn in on Thursday.
CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy called the ASX result modestly positive.
He said the market was fairly subdued in its response to the looming US stimulus.
“We’ve been trading in a fairly narrow band, and that’s been the case since the beginning of December,” he said.
“We’re still stuck at this stage and looking for our next leg up.”
The ASX200 is at the levels of late February, a little below the record 7197.2 set on February 20, before coronavirus worries began.
Mr McCarthy said it had appeared the surging price of iron ore, and the benefits for miners supplying Chinese steel-makers, might have taken the ASX to greater levels.
However he said something with wider appeal seemed to be needed.
Iron ore still helped BHP shares close higher than those of major rivals.
The miner raised its iron ore production target for the financial year after restarting a mining operation in Brazil.
BHP gave a half-year production update and said it would produce between 245 and 255 million tonnes of iron ore.
The company in December restarted the Samarco joint venture, five years after a dam collapsed and killed 19 people in Brazil’s biggest environmental disaster.
Shares closed higher by 0.94 per cent to $46.30. Fortescue was up 0.04 per cent to $24.83 and Rio Tinto ended better by 0.14 per cent to $119.80.
Among big improvers was supplier of materials for lithium batteries, Novonix.
It jumped 13.97 per cent to $2.08 after Tuesday’s news that it recruited a professor who works with electric vehicle maker Tesla.
Family social networking provider Life360 climbed 10.8 per cent to $4.00 after the company recruited Randi Zuckerberg, the sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Ms Zuckerberg worked for Facebook in its early years and will join Life360 as a non-executive director.
Medical device manufacturer PolyNovo jumped 7.26 per cent to $2.66 after it said distributors in Poland and Turkey will carry its NovoSorb product, which can help treat wounds.
Surgeons can use NovoSorb to help close wounds and grow new tissue, for conditions such as ulcers, burns and lacerations.
In banking, the big four and Macquarie all closed less than one per cent lower.
On Thursday, December jobs data will be published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
A 50,000 rise in the number of people employed is tipped, after a 90,000 jump in November.
This would see the jobless rate ease to 6.7 per cent from 6.8 per cent.
The Aussie dollar was buying 77.29 US cents at 1712 AEDT, higher from 77.17 US cents at Tuesday’s close.
ON THE ASX
* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 27.8 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 6770.4 on Wednesday.
* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 36 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 7051.0.
* At 1712 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was even at 6713 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 77.29 US cents, from 77.17 cents on Tuesday
* 80.17 Japanese yen, from 80.19 yen
* 63.65 Euro cents, from 63.74 cents
* 56.58 British pence, from 56.66 pence
* 108.35 NZ cents, from 108.08 cents.