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Miners help ASX to a positive close

Christian Edwards

The share market has ended a choppy session in positive territory with a respite in falling iron ore prices helping materials and resources stocks recover lost ground.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index finished Friday 0.2 per cent to 5,681.6 points, with losses for energy producers offset by gains among the major miners.

For the week, the index was down half a point - a marginal 0.01 per cent.

Citi Equities director Karen Jorritsma said a fall in energy stocks - the sector was the worst performer on Friday - was offset by a recovery in materials and resources which closed out the session on better ground.

"With volumes on Monday (public holiday) likely to be far lower, we have seen some broad gains across the market with miners, some US dollar earners and consumer staples doing well, while banks are still pretty flat and directionless," Ms Jorritsma said.

Among the big four banks, Commonwealth Bank made the best gains, up 13 cents or 0.2 per cent, at $75.25 after the bank said it listened to shareholder concerns on executive pay.

NAB ended 0.1 per cent higher at $31.50, while ANZ and Westpac shed 0.5 per cent and 0.65 per cent to $29.60 and $31.92 respectively.

The miners responded positively to a pause in the falling price of iron ore with Fortescue up by 1.6 per cent at $5.14, BHP Billiton up by 0.8 per cent to $25.78 and Rio Tinto ahead 1.6 per cent to $66.41.

The energy sector struggled to recover from an overnight drop in oil prices after recent gains.

Santos lost six cents, or 1.5 per cent to $4.02, Oil Search was down six cents, or 0.85 per cent at $7.00 and Woodside Petroleum shed 33 cents, or 1.1 per cent, to $29.10.

Troubled luxury handbags retailer Oroton was steady at 78 cents after posting a $14.3 million full year loss.

Supermarket operators Wesfarmers and Woolworths both made gains, with Coles owner Wesfarmers up 1.6 per cent to $41.33 and Woolies up 0.4 per cent to $25.21.

With Asian markets heading into a traditionally turbulent October, Ms Jorritsma said there was opportunity for investors on the ASX.

"Heading into the full swing of the AGM season next week, we are expecting to see some further positioning ahead of some of those announcements," Ms Jorritsma said.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar has recovered some ground against an increasingly feisty US dollar strengthened by US Fed Chair Janet Yellen's recent statements seen as encouraging on US rate hikes and US President Donald Trump's 'Big Six' tax reform.

The local currency was trading at 78.40 US cents at 1700 AEST on Friday, from 78.13 on Thursday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 ended Friday up 11.2 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 5,681.6 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 13.4 points, or 0.23 per cent, at 5,744.9 points.

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 21 points, or 0.37 per cent, at 5,667 points.

* National turnover was 2.6 billion securities traded worth $6.5 billion


One Australian dollar buys:

* 78.40 US cents, from 78.13 on Thursday

* 88.336 Japanese yen, from 88.30 yen

* 66.49 euro cents, from 66.53 euro cents

* 58.46 British pence, from 58.39 pence

* 108.68 NZ cents, from 108.80 cents


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,287.05 per fine ounce, from $US1,280.36 per fine ounce on Thursday.


* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0355pct, from 2.0632pct on Thursday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.7852pct, from 2.8062pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* December 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.13 (implying a yield of 2.87pct), from 97.11 (implying a yield of 2.89pct) on Thursday

* December 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 97.81 (2.19pct), from 97.79 (2.21pct).

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