Australia Markets closed

Australian share market hits all-time high

Derek Rose
The futures market is pointing to a rise for the ASX at the start of trade

The Australian share market hit a fresh intraday all-time high in early trading as fears about global growth and trade fade into the background.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index traded as high as 6,869.5 points before closing on Thursday at 6,864, up 13.4 points, or 0.2 per cent, from Wednesday.

It broke through its previous record - of 6,875.5, set on July 30 - in the first few minutes of trading.

The broader All Ordinaries was up 15 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 6,965.6 points - also a record.

"It's been a record year, it's been a record month, and it's only expected to get better," said Bell Direct market analyst Jessica Amir, noting the Australian market historically rises 2.6 per cent from December to January.

So far this year the ASX200 is up 21.6 per cent, and is up 3 per cent in November, with the month on track to the be index's best since June.

Optimism about a US China-trade deal, record highs being set on Wall Street and speculation that the Reserve Bank may cut the cash rate further - and possibly even embrace the unconventional monetary policy known as quantitative easing - have all pushed sentiment higher.

The telecom sector was by far the biggest gainer on Thursday, rising 2.9 per cent, as Telstra climbed 4.0 per cent to $3.86 to account for over 40 per cent of the day's gains.

Ms Amir said that Macquarie and Credit Suisse had both upgraded the stock following Telstra's investor day presentation on Wednesday, with Macquarie setting a bullish $4 price target.

TPG rose 2.8 per cent to $7.04 and Spark New Zealand was up 0.7 per cent to $4.32.

Health care was the second-best performer, with CSL gaining 1.1 per cent to $282.99 for a 10.5 per cent rise on the month.

The big banks were mostly lower, with ANZ down 0.8 per cent to $24.87, Westpac down 0.4 per cent to $24.70, NAB flat at $26.18 and Commonwealth Bank down 0.1 per cent to $81.60.

Macquarie Group rose 0.5 per cent to $138.05.

In the heavyweight mining sector, BHP and Rio Tinto both rose 0.4 per cent, to $38.50 and $97.39, respectively, while South32 climbed 0.4 per cent to $2.68.

Goldminers were lower, with Newcrest falling 0.5 per cent, Saracen down 1.0 per cent and Evolution falling 3.4 per cent after reiterating its guidance from October at its annual general meeting.

EFTPOS provider Smartpay surged 76.9 per cent to 46 cents after agreeing to sell its New Zealand business to Verifone for $NZ70 million ($A66 million), money it will return to shareholders in a distribution of around 20 NZ cents a share.

McGrath gained 3.5 per cent to 30 cents after the real estate agency reported promising signs it was on a path to better time.

The Aussie dollar is buying 67.67 US cents, from 67.77 US cents on Wednesday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 13.4 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 6,864 points.

* The All Ordinaries closed up 15 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 6,965.6 points.

* At 1718 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up two points, or 0.03 per cent, to 6,874.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 67.67 US cents, from 67.77 US cents on Wednesday

* 74.07 Japanese yen, from 73.97 yen

* 61.47 euro cents, from 61.56 cents

* 52.27 British pence, from 52.76 pence

* 105.34 NZ cents, from 105.48 cents.