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Aust market at best level in eight months

The local share market has gained ground for the eighth time this year, to finish at its highest level since April.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Monday closed up 60.1 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 7388.2 in its highest close since April 29.

The broader All Ordinaries gained 64.9 points, or 0.86 per cent, to 7605.

In the 10 trading sessions this year, the ASX has gained 349 points, or 4.97 per cent, having suffered two days of losses.

"It's been such a remarkable turnaround, hasn't it," IG market analyst Tony Sycamore told AAP.

"December 2022, it all looked very ominous."

Mr Sycamore attributed the market's about-face to optimism over China's reopening after three years of COVID-19 lockdowns and cooling US inflation, which is expected to pave the way for less aggressive rate hikes from the US Federal Reserve.

"It's been a miraculous turnaround, and I believe we have a bit further to go," Mr Sycamore said.

Every sector finished higher on Monday with tech and energy leading the way, climbing 1.8 and 1.5 per cent respectively.

Xero added 4.6 per cent, Wisetech Global climbed 4.0 per cent and Tyro Payments advanced 6.9 per cent after upgrading its guidance.

In the heavyweight mining sector, BHP hit an all-time intraday high of $50 in early trading but couldn't sustain that move, finishing up 0.1 per cent to $49.69.

Fortescue Metals dropped 2.1 per cent to $22.33 and Rio Tinto had edged 0.1 per cent lower to $122.17.

Goldminers were ascendant as the price of the yellow metal hit $US1,920 ($A2,752) an ounce, its highest level since April.

As recently as November, gold was changing hands at less than $US1,650 ($A2,365) but the non-yield bearing asset has been gaining ground on the prospect of less aggressive central bank rate hikes.

Northern Star was up 2.9 per cent to a two-year high of $12.43, Newcrest was up 2.4 per cent to a six-month high of $23.17 and Evolution climbed 1.2 per cent to $3.33.

Ioneer was a top performer, soaring 20.9 per cent to a one-month high of 55c after the US Department of Energy finalised terms for a $US700 million ($A1 billion) loan to develop Ioneer's Rhyolite Ridge lithium project in Nevada.

The loan proposal follows two years of due diligence by the Department of Energy, and is part of an effort by the Biden administration to develop domestic electric vehicle supply chains, Ioneer said.

The heavyweight financial sector gained 0.9 per cent, with all of the big banks higher.

ANZ rose 1.6 per cent to $24.89, NAB added 1.1 per cent to $31.65, CBA climbed 0.8 per cent to $107.35 and Westpac advanced 0.7 per cent to $23.93.

Super Retail Group soared 7.7 per cent to a nearly one-year high of $12.34 after the Macpac, Rebel Sports and Supercheap Auto owner reported strong first-half trading, with same-store sales up 11 per cent.

Other retail companies also did well, perhaps buoyed by the news.

Myer closed up 8.6 per cent to a five-year high of 75.5c, JB Hi-Fi gained 3.4 per cent to an eight-month high of $47.10 and Adairs advanced 3.6 per cent to an eight-month high of $2.89.

But Baby Bunting dropped 11.6 per cent to a three-week low of $2.68 after the baby goods retailer announced lower profit margins in the first half along with softer than expected sales in December.

Back in the mining sector, small cap Tietto Minerals announced it had become West Africa's newest gold producer with the first pour at its Abujar mine in Ivory Coast, 12 months after construction started on the project.

Tietto shares dipped 0.6 per cent to 82c, still up 16 per cent on the year.

The Australian dollar meanwhile was hovering just under 70 US cents, a level it hasn't traded at since August.

It was buying 69.90 US cents, from 69.67 US cents at Friday's ASX close.

Cryptocurrencies were also rallying, with Bitcoin trading above $A30,000 for the first time since early November.

The original cryptocurrency is up 23 per cent in the past seven days.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed Monday up 60.1 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 7388.2.

* The broader All Ordinaries added 64.9 points, or 0.86 per cent, to 7605.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 69.90 US cents, from 69.67 US cents at Friday's ASX close

* 89.26 Japanese yen, from 89.74 Japanese yen

* 64.39 Euro cents, from 64.24 Euro cents

* 57.04 British pence, from 57.11 pence

* 109.16 NZ cents, from 109.21 NZ cents.