SYDNEY, AAP – Building materials providers and miners propped up the ASX in the last session before Easter after an early gift in the Biden administration’s $US2 trillion ($A2.6 trillion) plan.
Builders such as BlueScope Steel, Boral and James Hardie starred as the S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed up 38 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 6828.7 on Thursday.
The All Ordinaries closed higher by 47.2 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 7064.2.
The materials sectors closed higher by 1.48 per cent following Joe Biden’s details of another plan to help the US economy recover from its pandemic woes.
After US markets closed mostly higher, Mr Biden proposed more affordable housing, and rebuilding roads, bridges and railways.
While the plan may face opposition in US Congress, ThinkMarkets analyst Carl Capolingua said it was encouraging for Australian builders with US operations.
“Those companies certainly benefit from this,” he said.
James Hardie has considerable US interests and rose 3.82 per cent to $41.36.
BlueScope Steel climbed 3.46 per cent to $20.02.
Boral rose 6.74 per cent to $5.86. The company also says it will buy back 10 per cent of shares, and that a $450 million profit is expected from selling its stake in USG Boral.
For the week, the ASX200 closed higher by 0.07 per cent.
Mr Capolingua said the week had been frustrating for investors, and showed funds were increasingly flowing to the US.
“We were the big show in the global economy for the second half of last year,” Mr Capolingua said of Australia.
“We had little COVID impact, and a hugely stimulatory budget.
“But if you’re a fund manager now, the biggest bang for your back is increasingly in the US.
“Our dollar is slipping and the ASX is underperforming.”
Australians are spending however, particularly on housing. House prices had the biggest monthly increase in 32 years, rising 2.8 per cent in March, for an annual pace of 6.2 per cent.
The rise in the CoreLogic home value index was led by a 3.7 per cent increase in Sydney.
Back on the ASX, gold miners rose after the price of the precious metal climbed back to higher than $US1700.
Northern Star was up 3.38 per cent to $9.80. Evolution and Newcrest gained more than two per cent.
The boss of wealth manager AMP will “retire” from the top job and be replaced by an ANZ executive.
Francesco De Ferrari “will retire from the roles as the company completes its portfolio review”, the group said in a statement.
ANZ deputy CEO Alexis George will take the CEO role in the third quarter of this year.
Shares in AMP were higher by 4.74 per cent to $1.32.
ANZ shares, and all of the big four banks, gained less than 0.6 per cent.
Macquarie Group fell foul of regulator APRA, which found Macquarie Bank did not properly manage risk or meet liquidity reporting standards.
APRA has increased the bank’s liquidity and operational risk requirements in response.
Macquarie said the breaches were historical and did not affect capital or liquidity positions.
Shares were down 0.46 per cent to $152.12.
Among the big three miners, Fortescue was best and rose 1.3 per cent to $20.25.
Next week will be another shortened trading one due to Easter.
The first trading day will be Tuesday, when the Reserve Bank will decide whether to alter the record low cash rate of 0.1 per cent. Economists do not expect any change.
The Australian dollar was buying 75.47 US cents at 1726 AEDT, lower from 75.99 US cents at Wednesday’s close.
ON THE ASX
* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed up 38 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 6828.7 on Thursday.
* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 47.2 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 7064.2.
* At 1726 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was higher by eight points, or 0.12 per cent, and trading at 6811 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 75.47 US cents, from 75.99 cents on Wednesday
* 83.60 Japanese yen, from 84.21 yen
* 64.37 Euro cents, from 64.89 cents
* 54.83 British pence, from 55.35 pence
* 108.48 NZ cents, from 109.00 cents