Aust shares rally to new record, finish just below 7900

Derek Rose |

The local share market closed at a fresh all-time high on the final trading day of March.
The local share market closed at a fresh all-time high on the final trading day of March.

The local share market has closed at a record high for the fifth time this year, finishing just under 7,900 after crossing above that level for the first time ever in intraday trading.

The S&P/ASX200 on Thursday rose 77.3 points, or 1.0 per cent, to 7,896.9, breaking its previous record close of 7,847 set on March 8. It also climbed as high as 7,901.2 shortly after noon. 

For the quarter, the benchmark index rose 4.0 per cent. It was up 2.6 per cent for the month, its fifth straight month of gains. For the holiday-shortened week it added 1.6 per cent, its fourth winning week out of the past five.

The broader All Ordinaries on Thursday finished up 80.1 points, or 1.0 per cent, to 8,153.7.

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said shares had had a very strong start to the year, and Australia’s market was actually underperforming its global peers.

While there was a risk of a correction, the economic news had been consistent with a “Goldilocks scenario” of continuing but cooler growth and central bank rate cuts later this year, which should keep any corrections mild, Dr Oliver said. 

The month of April is among the strongest seasonally, both in the US and particularly Australia, Dr Oliver added.

Australian retail trade figures for February released on Thursday came in a tick under expectations, showing a modest 0.3 per cent growth in turnover despite a boost in merchandise spending for the Taylor Swift concerts, slightly bolstering the case for mid-year interest rate cuts.

Every sector finished higher on Thursday, with materials the biggest gainer, climbing 1.8 per cent.

BHP rose 1.4 per cent to $44.27, Fortescue added 2.0 per cent to $25.70 and Rio Tinto finished up 0.7 per cent at $121.76.

Goldminers did well as the precious metal changed hands just below $US2,200 an ounce, with Evolution up 1.7 per cent to $3.58 and Newmont climbing 3.3 per cent to $53.71.

The interest-rate-sensitive property sector rose 1.7 per cent to finish the month up 9.6 per cent, with Goodman Group advancing 1.9 per cent to $33.81 and Mirvac up 2.2 per cent to $2.36.

The Big Four banks were mixed, with ANZ up 0.5 per cent to $29.40, Westpac up 0.4 per cent to $26.10 and CBA adding 0.3 per cent to $120.34. NAB was the outlier, dipping 0.1 per cent to $34.64.

In health care, Fisher & Paykel dropped 2.8 per cent to $23.66 after the Kiwi respiratory products company announced it had initiated a voluntary recall of two nasal high-flow therapy devices because of a speaker configuration issue that could result in inaudible alarms.

Fisher & Paykel said the recall of the Airvo 2 and myAirvo 2 devices manufactured before 2017 would cost it around $12 million.

In energy, Beach grew 3.7 per cent to a one-and-a-half-year high of $1.835 after the oil and gas producer said it was undertaking a strategic review of its operations and would cut staff by 30 per cent across its business. 

In small caps, Resonance Health went into a trading halt, with the medical imaging company saying it intended to announce a material new acquisition.

The Australian dollar was buying 65.24 US cents, from 65.27 US cents at Wednesday’s ASX close.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Thursday finished 77.3 points higher at 7,896.9, a gain of 0.99 per cent.

* The broader All Ordinaries rose 80.1 points, or 1.0 per cent, to 8,153.7.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 65.24 US cents, from 65.27 US cents at Wednesday’s ASX close

* 98.71 Japanese yen, from 98.98 yen

* 60.28 Euro cents, from 60.28 Euro cents

* 51.65 British pence, from 51.74 pence

* 108.93 NZ cents, from 108.81 NZ cents