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Energy, health stocks lift Aust shares

Christian Edwards
AAP
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The Australian markets has opened higher after the Dow Jones breached the 24,000 mark

The Australian markets has opened higher after the Dow Jones breached the 24,000 mark

The Australian share market has closed higher, led by the healthcare and energy sectors, while the under- pressure banks faded after an early rally as the looming royal commission weighs on the financial sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index finished Friday 0.3 per cent higher at 5,989.8 points after investors pushed briefly past the 6,000 point mark in the morning session, aided by overnight advances on Wall Street.

The market made a slim 0.1 per cent gain during a week that was shaken by the royal commission announced by the federal government on Thursday.

Banks started in positive territory a day after the announcement but the big four ended mixed.

ANZ led the rebound, up 0.6 per cent, at $28.62, Westpac climbed 0.3 per cent to $31.56 and the National Australia Bank closed 0.1 per cent higher at $29.62.

The Commonwealth Bank, which suffered the biggest slide on Thursday, fell 26 cents, or 0.33 per cent, at $79.17.

The federal government annouced the royal commission will be chaired by former High Court judge Kenneth Hayne.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said it was clear 6,000 points remains "a bridge too far" for traders as Australian markets moderated off the early inroads made on US trading overnight, with energy and healthcare the standout performers of the session.

"Investors distinguished between the rallies they saw on US markets and attributed it to the potential changes in US tax legislation that, while they may have a general stimulatory effect on the US economy, we might have gotten a little carried away this morning," Mr McCarthy said.

The energy sector did climb 1.7 per cent, as the major oil producers rose on OPEC's overnight decision to draw out oil production cuts to the end of 2018, with Oil Search up two per cent, while Woodside Petroleum and Santos were both 1.2 per cent higher.

Origin Energy closed out a strong week, up a further 1.6 per cent and Beach Energy rocketed up 8.6 per cent, at $1.14, its highest mark since April 2015, as investors considered it well-placed to benefit from price rises.

US-exposed blood products and vaccines giant CSL led the gains on a significant day for the health sector, up 1.6 per cent, at $145.60, while Ramsay Health Care and protective products supplier Ansell ended 0.7 per cent and 1.2 per cent higher respectively.

Billabong shares rose 21.8 per cent wave to hit 95 cents, after the surfwear brand received a merger proposal from Quiksilver and Roxy owner Boardriders that values the company at around $200 million.

Shares in logistics software company GetSwift soared 83.7 per cent to $3.60 after it secured agreements with online retail giant Amazon and fast food group Yum!

And the major miners closed higher as iron ore gains entered their sixth straight session, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto ahead one per cent and 0.3 per cent, respectively.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was slightly lower against a resurgent US dollar, with strength in iron ore prices helping hold the local currency against further losses.

The Australian dollar was trading at 75.64 US cents at 1630 AEDT on Friday, from 75.90 US cents on Thursday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 19.9 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 5,989.8

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 18.3 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 6,075.5 points.

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 11 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 5,997 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 75.64 US cents, from 75.90 on Thursday

* 85.143 Japanese yen, from 85.099 yen

* 63.42 euro cents, from 63.97 euro cents

* 55.91 British pence, from 56.36 pence

* 110.80 NZ cents, from 110.87 cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,275.07 per fine ounce, from $US1,283.80 per fine ounce on Thursday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.8407pct, from 1.8155pct

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.49116pct, from 2.4591pct, unchanged

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* December 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.450 (implying a yield of 2.550pct), from 97.485 (implying a yield of 2.515pct) on Thursday

* December 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.05 (1.95pct), from 98.08 (1.92pct).

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