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ASX hits highest mark since April 2015

Christian Edwards
AAP
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The Australian share market looks set to open comfortably higher

The Australian share market looks set to open comfortably higher

Australian shares were up half a per cent at lunchtime, largely ignoring the steady retail data for September as all sectors, bar the telcos, moved into positive territory.

At 1200 AEDT on Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 0.5 per cent at 5,960.7 points and at its highest level since April 2015.

September retail sales data, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics at 1130 AEDT, came in steady at a seasonally adjusted $25.9 billion for the month, falling short of market expectations of a 0.4 per cent rise.

The Australian dollar momentarily collapsed from 77.14 US cents just before the release, and bottoming out at 76.88 US cents a few minutes later at 1134 AEDT.

By 1200 AEDT, it was trading at 76.92 US cents, compared with 77.12 US cents on Thursday.

On the ASX, National Australia Bank was dragging its feet, down 0.5 per cent at $31.80, after negative analyst reaction to the outlook and restructuring hit of up to $800 million flagged during the bank's full-year results announcement on Thursday.

The other three top banks were largely ahead, with Westpac up 0.5 per cent, and Commonwealth Bank and ANZ both up 0.1 per cent.

Global miner BHP Billiton was up 1.2 per cent while peer Rio Tinto had found 0.6 per cent, but Fortescue Metals was 1.3 per cent lower.

Mortgage Insurer Genworth gained 0.2 per cent to $2.84 after saying its third-quarter net profit fell by almost one-third.

Baby food and formula maker Bubs Australia had gained 4.4 per cent to 83 cents after announcing it had acquired goats milk powder company NuLac and an exclusive milk supply agreement in a $39 million-plus deal.

The broader telecom sector was trailing the market, with Telstra down two cents to $3.49, although TPG Telecom was up 1.1 per cent after news it had been fined a $360,000 by the Australian Communications and Media Authority for spamming its customers.

ON THE ASX:

* At 1200 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 29 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 5,960.7 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 29.2 points, or 0.49 per cent, at 6,031.4 points.

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 22 points or 0.37 per cent at 5,942 points.

* National turnover was 2.1 billion securities traded worth $2 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1200 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 76.92 US cents, from 77.12 on Thursday

* 87.66 Japanese yen, from 87.85 yen

* 65.99 euro cents, from 66.17 euro cents

* 58.93 British pence, from 58.04 pence

* 111.15 NZ cents, from 111.39 cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1200 AEDT was $US1,278.00 per fine ounce, from $US1,278.25 per fine ounce on Thursday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1200 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.8338pct, from 1.8849pct

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.5288, from 2.6072pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* December 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.40 (implying a yield of 2.60pct), from 97.325 (implying a yield of 2.675pct) on Thursday

* December 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.05 (1.95pct), from 98.00 (2.00pct)

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)