SYDNEY, AAP – The Australian share market has traded firmly higher, buoyed by overnight gains on Wall Street and continuing strength in commodity prices that have boosted heavyweight mining and energy stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 42.1 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 7521.1 by 1200 AEST on Thursday.

The All Ordinaries index was higher by 45.1 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 7817.1.

Investors took the cue from an overnight rally in the US markets, which saw a recovery in interest-sensitive growth stocks.

Meanwhile, Australia’s unemployment rate remained steady at four per cent in March, reinforcing economists’ view that the Reserve Bank of Australia is likely to start lifting the cash rate by June.


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Firmer global crude prices due to worries about tight global supply also aided local gains, with energy again among the top-performing sectors on the ASX.

Woodside Petroleum and Santos were up one per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively, while Viva Energy and Beach Energy were up 1.4 per cent and 1.9 per cent.

The top iron ore miners helped underpin the gains in the materials sector, with BHP and Fortescue Metals each rising more than one per cent.

Gold producers such as Regis Resources, Evolution and Northern Star jumped between two per cent and five per cent after bullion prices hit a one-month peak as high inflation boosted the appeal of safe-haven assets.

The heavyweight financials sector bucked the trend though, as each of the big four banks traded in the red.

Sentiment was soured after Bank of Queensland results underlined the pressure on earings in the sector.

BoQ reported a decrease in its net interest margin by 12 basis points to 1.74 per cent, amid ongoing competitive pressures and higher fixed-rate lending volumes. The stock was down 5.4 per cent to $8.08.

Uniti Group shares rose 2.9 per cent to $4.96 after the telecoms firm agreed to a $3.62 billion takeover offer from a consortium of Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management and fund manager Morrison & Co.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was buying 74.52 US cents at 1200 AEST, up from its 74.34 US cents value at Wednesday’s close.