SYDNEY, AAP – The Australian share market has started on a positive note in a week in which central banks’ forecasts for higher rates are likely to dominate discussion.

The market was higher by about half a per cent by noon on Monday after a good lead from Wall Street from Friday following lower unemployment and higher wages data in the United States.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 34.2 points, or 0.45 per cent, to 7528 at 1200 AEST. The index is a little more than 100 points from its record of August.

The All Ordinaries index was higher by 44.3 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 7830.2.

Materials shares were the standouts. They rose one per cent and were the only sector moving by that margin in either direction.


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The big miners were all higher. Fortescue Metals was best and up three per cent to $21.71. BHP and Rio Tinto each improved half a per cent.

Healthcare was next best and rose by nearly one per cent.

Consumer discretionaries were the only shares with losses of note. They were down half a per cent.

Analysts are not expecting the Reserve Bank to raise rates on Tuesday despite the economy continuing to improve from its pandemic depths.

However there will be plenty of scrutiny of the outlook statement. Most economists have tipped a rate rise this year.

The US central bank will also make news this week. The US Federal Reserve has already hiked rates and investors expect to see clues to further increases in its meeting minutes due mid-week.

Meanwhile western allies were discussing further sanctions against Russia as it continues its war on Ukraine.

On the ASX, Pendal shares surged 21 per cent to $5.44 after fund manager Perpetual offered $2.4 billion for all the shares in its rival.

The Pendal board will consider the offer, but said the long-term value of asset managers like their own company may not currently reflect their potential due to the pandemic and geo-political instability.

The Perpetual bid is worth $6.23 per share. Perpetual had paused trading but shares last sold for $34.23.

The big banks were largely stagnant. Westpac was the only one of the big four to improve. It rose less than half a per cent to $24.04.

Lender Pepper Money is buying 65 per cent of consumer finance broker Stratton Finance.

The $78 million buy will help Pepper Money’s distribute its services more widely and give better customer insight by sharing data between the businesses.

Pepper Money was up four per cent to $2.17.

Iluka Resources has made a final investment decision to go ahead with a fully integrated rare earths refinery in Western Australia.

The refinery will produce rare earth oxides used for electric cars, energy and electronics.

The capital cost is up to $1.2 billion and production is due to start in 2025.

Iluka was up four per cent to $12.04.

Strandline Resources is examining whether it could increase the planned production rate of its Coburn mine in Western Australia by 50 per cent.

The mine is due to begin production late this year and will produce zircon, titanium and rare earths.

Boss Luke Graham said customers had asked Strandline to consider increasing production and there was the potential for greater sales.

Strandline was up five per cent to 50 cents.

The Australian dollar was buying 75.04 US cents at 1200 AEST, higher from 74.77 US cents at Friday’s close.