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Best day in three weeks for share market

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·4-min read
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Australian shares had their best day in three weeks while US jobs figures and a Reserve Bank decision may influence whether the ASX stays near historic highs.

Gains for miners and energy providers led the market to rise by half a per cent on Friday, set up by two Wall Street indices closing at record heights.

The ASX 200 is 110 points from its all-time high of August 13.

Investors may take their cues on whether to narrow the margin after the US August jobs figures, due in the next 24 hours.

US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell wants solid progress in employment before the central bank eases bond buying. A rate hike would follow.

The Reserve Bank of Australia also has a keenly anticipated meeting on Tuesday.

The nation's two biggest states remain in coronavirus lockdown and analysts have speculated the bank could change its decision to taper bond buying from $5 billion per week to $4 billion per week.

While increasing rates is a more distant possibility in Australia, Tribeca Investment Partners portfolio manager Jun Bei Liu outlined the significance of the bonds decision.

"It will be important for the share market," she said.

"The share market needs the economy to do well, and then people can be bullish about investing.

"If the tapering starts too early while many of us are in lockdown, the market will become worried."

Ms Liu did not expect the RBA to change its course.

Investors showed no sign of nerves either and guided the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index to close higher by 37.2 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 7522.9.

For the week, the index gained 0.46 per cent.

The All Ordinaries was up 42.9 points, or 0.55 per cent, to 7826.7.

Materials shares were the top performers, despite iron ore prices trading lower overnight.

Mining giant Rio Tinto improved by 2.5 per cent to $111.37. BHP and Fortescue gained less than one per cent.

Energy shares were elevated while oil production in the Gulf of Mexico remains mostly shuttered after Hurricane Ida.

Perth-based uranium miner Paladin Energy surged by more than 23 per cent to 78 cents.

Shares in infrastructure investor Macquarie Group traded for a record high of $169.77.

Ms Liu said this was likely due to the prospects for global economic growth improving as more people were vaccinated for coronavirus.

The shares closed higher by 0.67 per cent to $169.18.

Smash repair group AMA disappointed investors after appearing to prepare a capital raising and then postponing it.

The group paused trading of its shares before trade opened, then later said the decision was an error.

AMA had earlier said it may use the market to improve its balance sheet due to fewer car repairs during the pandemic.

Shares closed lower by 5.62 per cent to 42 cents.

The big four banks were mixed. NAB was best and rose 0.74 per cent to $28.70.

The biggest losses were in technology shares. Afterpay dropped 2.77 per cent to $130.71.

Software vendor TechnologyOne agreed to buy UK education software provider Scientia.

TechnologyOne will pay about 12 million pounds ($A22 million) for the first company it has bought overseas.

Shares were up 3.55 per cent to $10.49.

Stocks trading ex-dividend included Ampol, Bendigo Bank, loan provider Resimac and technology company Bravura Solutions.

The Aussie dollar climbed to buy more than 74 US cents after rising since early last week.

RBC chief currency strategist Adam Cole said Mr Powell's comments last month for the Jackson Hole symposium had some influence on a weakening US dollar.

Mr Cole said the speech gave traders reason to believe any easing of bond buying would not be soon followed by a rate hike.

The Australian dollar was buying 74.22 US cents at 1726 AEST, higher than 73.79 US cents at Thursday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed better by 37.2 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 7522.9 on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries was up 42.9 points, or 0.55 per cent, to 7826.7.

* At 1726 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was down by 10 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 7496 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 74.22 US cents, from 73.79 cents on Thursday

* 81.65 Japanese yen, from 81.29 yen

* 62.48 Euro cents, from 62.36 cents

* 53.68 British pence, from 53.61 pence

* 104.19 NZ cents, from 104.31 cents.

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