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ASX closes higher, best week in past 13

Steven Deare
·4-min read

Australia's share market has closed higher in its strongest week in 13, as banks thrived after a Reserve Bank decision to extend bond-buying.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 75 points, or 1.11 per cent, to 6840.5 on Friday.

The All Ordinaries closed higher by 75 points, or 1.07 per cent, at 7112.9.

The top sectors were information technology, up 2.35 per cent, and industrials, up 2.34 per cent.

The ASX200 gained 3.53 per cent in a week in which the Reserve Bank made its first policy decisions of 2021.

The bank on Tuesday left the cash rate at a record low 0.1 per cent, but its decision to buy a further $100 billion in government bonds after April came earlier than expected.

This quantitative easing program aims to keep long-term interest rates, and in turn borrowing rates, low.

However bond yields, often viewed as an early indicator of investor sentiment, kept rising.

ThinkMarkets analyst Carl Capolingua said the rising yields showed investors' long-term view that the economy would improve and rates would rise.

"Financial services has been one of the best sectors this week," Mr Capolingua said.

"That's a direct result of the RBA governor's comments and moves in the bond market."

Financials gained 5.65 per cent this week and was only bettered by information technology, which surged 6.05 per cent.

Earlier in the US, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted record closing highs after upbeat earnings reports and data suggesting the labour market may be stabilising.

The number of Americans asking for unemployment benefits decreased further last week, according to a government report.

Democrats in the US Senate were poised to take a first step towards the passage of President Joe Biden's $US1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief proposal.

In Australia, the Reserve Bank is predicting inflation to spike to three per cent by mid-year, but governor Philip Lowe insisted this won't be enough to raise interest rates.

In its quarterly statement on monetary policy, the bank said movements in the consumer price index will be choppy.

Elsewhere, South Australia removed border restrictions for travellers from Perth as many West Australians look forward to the end of coronavirus lockdown on Friday.

About two million people have had a week of lockdown after a hotel quarantine worker contracted a highly contagious strain. No other people were infected.

On the ASX, Afterpay hit a record high $151.30 at the end of the session. Shares closed higher by 3.41 per cent.

Miner South32 fell 2.93 per cent to $2.65 after a NSW planning body recommended the state government refuse the expansion of the Dendrobium coal mine near Wollongong.

South32 wants to extract an additional 78 million tonnes from two new areas, and run the mine until 2048. The company said it would continue discussions with stakeholders.

Among other miners, BHP lost 0.25 per cent to $43.80, Fortescue gained 0.69 per cent to $23.23 and Rio Tinto fell 0.83 per cent to $113.33.

In banking, ANZ rose by 2.06 per cent to $25.29, the Commonwealth gained 1.81 per cent to $88.64, NAB was up 2.15 per cent to $25.23 and Westpac gained 2.03 per cent to $22.15.

Next week, earnings season ramps up.

On Tuesday, financial services provider Suncorp and building materials supplier Boral give first-half reports.

On Wednesday, market giant Commonwealth Bank and insurer IAG will detail earnings.

On Thursday, AMP will provide full-year earnings while Telstra will report first-half figures.

The Aussie dollar was buying 76.03 US cents at 1722 AEDT, lower from 76.26 US cents at Thursday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 75 points, or 1.11 per cent, to 6840.5 on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 75 points, or 1.07 per cent, at 7112.9.

* At 1722 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was higher by five points, or 0.07 per cent, at 6778 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 76.03 US cents, from 76.26 cents on Thursday

* 80.23 Japanese yen, from 80.21 yen

* 63.55 Euro cents, from 63.50 cents

* 55.57 British pence, from 56.09 pence

* 106.24 NZ cents, from 106.00 cents.