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Shares rise as bargain hunters swoop

Trevor Chappell
AAP
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The Australian share market follows Wall Street down the path of red.

The Australian share market follows Wall Street down the path of red.

The Australian share market turned around a weak start to the day as bargain hunters bought stocks beaten up in Monday and Tuesday's plunge.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 0.2 per cent to 5,890.7 points, after falling 0.3 per cent in early trade.

CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said it was the sectors of the market hit hardest at the start of the week that drove Thursday's gains.

"We've seen some evidence of bargain hunting in the market," Mr McCarthy said.

"The buying that we're seeing is in those areas that have been beaten up recently or are considered to be in value territory, so telcos and banks are leading the charge at the moment."

"At the other end of the spectrum, commodity-exposed sectors and stocks are under pressure, and energy and materials are the worst performers."

Mr McCarthy said investors were focusing on earnings reports from local companies, but remain mindful that the disruption that occurred on Monday and Tuesday could happen again.

The prospects of rising inflation and the potential for an accelerated program of interest rate hikes from the US Federal Reserve were the trigger for sharp falls on Wall Street, which flowed over to markets around the world.

On Thursday, National Australia Bank was the best performer among the banks, gaining 2.3 per cent after meeting expectations with cash earnings of $1.65 billion in the first quarter of its fiscal year.

ANZ gained 0.8 per cent, Westpac added 0.3 per cent, while Commonwealth Bank dropped 0.4 per cent.

Wealth manager AMP climbed 3.6 per cent after more than doubling its underlying annual profit.

In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum dropped 2.1 per cent and Santos and Oil Search each surrendered 1.6 per cent after oil prices slipped to a one-month low due to a rise in US inventories.

Origin Energy shed two per cent after flagging a $533 million hit to its half year results from impairment charges.

Rio Tinto dropped one per cent despite its strong annual profit growth and record dividend, BHP Billiton shed 1.4 per cent and Fortescue Metals was 0.8 per cent weaker.

Tabcorp dropped 6.8 per cent after its half-year underlying profit and wagering division earnings missed market expectations.

The Australian dollar is weaker against the US dollar, which is outperforming all major currencies, due in part to easing commodity prices.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 13.9 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 5, 890.7 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 13.7 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 5,995.2 points.

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 20 points, or 0.35 per cent, at 5,810 points.

* National turnover was 2.7 billion securities traded worth $6.2 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 78.25 US cents, from 78.77 US cents on Wednesday

* 85.81 Japanese yen, from 85.99 yen

* 63.76 euro cents, from 63.59 euro cents

* 56.27 British pence, from 56.41 pence

* 108.72 NZ cents, from 107.73 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,311.66 per fine ounce, from $US1,329.61 per fine ounce on Wednesday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0116pct, from 1.9796pct

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.8392pct, from 2.7952pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.115 (implying a yield of 2.885pct), from 97.16 (implying a yield of 2.84pct) on Wednesday

* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.82 (2.18pct), from 97.85 (2.15pct).

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