SYDNEY, AAP – US payments giant Block has made an unconvincing ASX debut while the traditional heavyweights – the miners – held the market higher.

Block barely moved on Thursday having replaced merger partner Afterpay on the domestic market.

Investors sent Block chess depositary interests – units which allow overseas companies to trade on the ASX – lower by 0.35 per cent to $176.63.

The iron ore miners helped the market turn from lower to higher thanks to the rising price of the steelmaking commodity.

Iron ore specialist Fortescue Metals added 4.65 per cent to $21.39.


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BHP and Rio Tinto each gained about three per cent.

BHP investors are due to vote tonight on a recommendation to scrap a dual listing with the London Stock Exchange and have all shares trade on the ASX.

If approved, the share weighting of the biggest company on the ASX will grow considerably.

Most share categories on the ASX including the heavyweight financials were lower after gloom on Wall Street about the likelihood of rising interest rates.

CommSec market analyst Steven Daghlian said the ASX hit a one-month low during trade and would have closed lower if not for mining and energy shares.

He cited the same concerns in the US about rising rates.

“The focus is on interest rates around the world being on the way up and the tightening of monetary policy by central banks,” he said.

Mr Daghlian noted investors were demanding a better return (or yield) on bonds as they sold the fixed-interest investments lower.

“The bond market is much larger than the share market, and it tends to lead market sentiment,” he said.

“The expectation with inflation being strong is that the US will raise rates earlier.”

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 9.9 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 7,342.4 points.

The All Ordinaries index closed higher by 12.3 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 7,668.9 points.

In Australia, the unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 4.2 per cent in December from 4.6 per cent the previous month. This was the lowest level since August 2008.

There was little response in trading of the Aussie dollar.

On the ASX, oil giants Santos and Woodside gave fourth-quarter reports which showed improved sales.

Santos boasted record fourth-quarter sales thanks to its takeover of Oil Search.

The company had sales of $US1.53 billion, a marked rise on the $US922 million in the same quarter the previous year.

Shares were up 0.83 per cent to $7.26.

Woodside benefited from higher oil prices and improved fourth-quarter sales by 86 per cent on the same time a year earlier.

The company had sales of $US2.85 billion courtesy of an average oil price of $US90 per barrel.

Woodside revealed its full-year earnings would include writedowns of $US582 million for major assets.

Shares were up 1.53 per cent to $25.81.

The banks were mostly lower. NAB fared worst of the big four and lost 1.27 per cent to $28.70. ANZ was best and was little changed at $28.58.

In technology the buy now, pay later provider Zip improved second-quarter sales by 58 per cent.

Customer numbers and the value of sales were also higher by about the same measure.

Shares were down 1.37 per cent to $3.61.

The Australian dollar was buying 72.29 US cents at 1723 AEDT, higher from 71.88 US cents at Wednesday’s close.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 9.9 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 7,342.4 points on Thursday.

* The All Ordinaries index closed higher by 12.3 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 7,668.9 points.

* At 1723 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up one point, or 0.01 per cent, at 7246 points.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 72.29 US cents, from 71.88 cents on Wednesday

* 82.77 Japanese yen, from 82.22 yen

* 63.70 Euro cents, from 63.49 cents

* 53.06 British pence, from 52.87 pence

* 106.91 NZ cents, from 105.96 cents.