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Aust shares gain on steel relief, US jobs

Christian Edwards
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The ASX is expected to trade higher on Monday after US stocks rallied at the end of last week.

The ASX is expected to trade higher on Monday after US stocks rallied at the end of last week.

Australian shares have closed higher after regional markets lifted on jobs data positivity out of the US and Australian markets strengthened on the exemption from US tariffs on imported steel and aluminium.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index gained 0.55 per cent to close at 5,996.1 points on Monday, led by gains for the miners, banks and BlueScope Steel, which rallied on news Australia would be shielded from US President Trump's import imposts.

Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said the local market responded to upbeat US jobs data and the fresh optimism of a moderation in the pace of US interest rates rises.

Wall Street climbed 1.7 per cent on Friday after the US added 313,000 jobs in February - the biggest increase in more than 18 months, while wages growth came in lower-than-expected.

"Despite those wages numbers speaking to hopes that US interest rates will not rise as aggressively, US bond yields also lifted alongside US equities which, while a bit unusual, was also good for our local banks," Ms Lee said.

The Commonwealth Bank, Westpac and the ANZ all closed 0.6 per cent higher, while National Australia Bank lifted 0.4 per cent.

Following US confirmation of Australian exemptions from tariffs on imported steel, BlueScope gained 56 cents, or 3.7 per cent, to $15.88.

The price of copper on the London Metals Exchange climbed 1.9 per cent, helping boost local miners, with BHP Billiton gaining 2.1 per cent at $28.91 and Rio Tinto climbing 2.3 per cent to $75.48.

Local energy producers followed global oil prices higher, with Woodside Petroleum lifting 1.2 per cent to $28.94, Santos gaining 1.8 per cent to $4.98, Oil Search up one per cent at $7.15 and Origin Energy jumping 3.2 per cent to $8.81.

In company news, Newcrest Mining tumbled 99 cents, or 4.6 per cent, to $20.60 after the gold miner announced it will take a financial hit from a partial collapse of a tailings dam wall at its Cadia gold mine, south of Orange in NSW.

McGrath shares were steady at 43 cents after the troubled real estate group cut full-year earnings guidance, saying lower sales volumes had impacted the company more than previously thought.

And shares in local biotech Immutep rose 16.7 per cent to 2.8 cents after the company said it will conduct a clinical trial in collaboration with Canadian pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar, supported by global commodity prices, is holding its own against a greenback softened by an easing in US wages growth and a resultant reduction in inflation-driven rate hike expectations.

At 1700 AEDT on Monday, the local currency was worth 78.70 US cents, up from 77.95 US cents on Friday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 32.9 points, or 0.55 per cent, at 5,996.1 points

* The broader All Ordinaries index ended up 32.3 points, or 0.53 per cent, at 6,101.4 points

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 26 points, or 0.44 per cent, at 5,989.0 points

* National turnover was 3.2 billion securities traded worth $5.6 billion


One Australian dollar buys:

* 78.70 US cents, from 77.95 on Friday

* 83.93 Japanese yen, from 83.13 yen

* 63.88 euro cents, from 63.30 euro cents

* 56.78 British pence, from 56.46 pence

* 107.57 NZ cents, from 107.15 cents


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,322.57 per fine ounce, from $US1,318.30 per fine ounce on Friday.


* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0316pct, from 2.0038pct on Friday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.7686pct, from 2.7351pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.1875 (implying a yield of 2.8125pct), from 97.228 (2.772pct) on Friday

* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.845 (2.155pct), from 97.88 (2.12pct).

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