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Higher commodity prices lift share market

 

The Australian share market closed higher for a fifth straight session, led by the mining and energy sectors, after commodity prices jumped on hopes of stronger economic activity in China, and low US oil stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 0.3 per cent to 5,881 points, while the broader All Ordinaries rose 0.3 per cent to 5,976.3 points.

Phillip Capital senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said the market ran out of puff following a strong start to the session, but was supported by strength in the mining and energy sectors.

"Aluminium, iron ore and oil prices are propelling the major resources stocks," he said.

That also helped the Australian dollar rise to a five week high above 78 US cents, despite a temporary fall after the release of weaker than expected March jobs figures.

The unemployment rate was steady at 5.5 per cent, but the addition of 4,900 jobs in March was far below expectations of 20,000.

Mr Heffernan said equity markets had also drawn some comfort from the International Monetary Fund's latest World Economic Outlook, which said the global economy is enjoying its strongest performance since the start of the decade.

The mining sector was the standout performer, with BHP Billiton up 2.8 per cent to $30.92 despite trimming its full-year iron ore production guidance, Rio Tinto gained 3.1 per cent to $81.42, Fortescue Metals added 3.5 per cent to $4.71 and South32 was 4.6 per cent higher at $3.88.

Energy stocks strengthened after oil futures jumped nearly three per cent on a report that showed lower-than-expected US crude stocks, and Saudi Arabia signalled that it would prefer the oil price to be closer to $US100 a barrel.

Woodside Petroleum added 1.1 per cent to $31.06, Oil Search lifted 0.9 per cent to $7.77, and Santos gained 0.3 per cent to $6.00 despite lowering its full-year production and sales guidance due to the shutdown caused by February's earthquake in Papua New Guinea.

AMP posted its fifth straight fall, dropping 2.9 per cent to $4.32, its lowest level since early 2014.

National Australia Bank dipped 0.4 per cent to $28.33, Westpac also shed 0.4 per cent to $28.59, Commonwealth Bank dropped one cent to $72.40 and ANZ gained 0.3 per cent to $26.71.

Pharmacies operator and health and beauty products retailer Australian Pharmaceutical Industries backtracked 2.3 per cent to $1.47 after its half-year profit fell by 14 per cent.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 19.6 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 5,881points

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 20 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 5,976.3 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 15 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 5,853 points

* National turnover was 4 billion securities traded worth $6.7 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 78.01 US cents, from 77.59 US cents on Wednesday

* 83.77 Japanese yen, from 83.24 yen

* 63.01 euro cents, from 62.76 euro cents

* 54.93 British pence, from 54.28 pence

* 106.50 NZ cents, from 105.97 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,353.40 per fine ounce, from $US1,345.18 per fine ounce on Wednesday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.1125pct, from 2.1155pct on Wednesday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.752pct, from 2.7187pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* June 2018 10-year bond futures contract was 97.205 (implying a yield of 2.795pct), from 97.24 (2.76pct) on Wednesday

* June 2018 3-year bond futures contract was 97.73 (2.27pct), from 97.74 (2.26pct)

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