Australia markets closed

ASX hangs on to finish higher for 7th day

Derek Rose
The Australian share market recovered from early losses to finish in positive territory

The Australian share market has finished marginally higher in a seventh straight day of gains, ahead of a key meeting by a US Federal Reserve committee.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed on Wednesday up 3.5 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 6,148.4 points, while the All Ordinaries index gained 6.4 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 6,269.3.

It was the first time in eight months the ASX has been on a seven-day winning streak.

"We're pretty resilient at the moment," said Burman Invest chief investment officer Julia Lee.

Ms Lee said US futures pointing to a 0.5 per cent rise on Wall Street was driving the ASX higher ahead of the Federal Reserve's Open Markets Committee meeting.

The Fed is expected to leave US interest rates unchanged but traders will be watching closely to see if chairman Jerome Powell makes supportive statements on monetary stimulus during his press conference early on Thursday, Australia time.

Small cap stocks outperformed blue chips on Wednesday, with the Small Ordinaries gaining 0.6 per cent and the ASX50 falling 0.1 per cent.

Sectors were mixed, with energy and property stocks collectively both declining over two per cent, while consumer discretionary, tech, and health care sectors outperformed.

Tech stocks were the stand-outs, gaining a collective 3.1 per cent as Afterpay soared 7.5 per cent to another all-time high, of $54.52.

Zip Co rose as well, up 3.2 per cent to an all-time high of $6.75, after a report by market research company Roy Morgan said awareness of the two buy now, pay later services had soared to over 59 per cent of all Australians.

Xero gained 3.9 per cent to $85 and Megaport added 7.6 per cent to $15.35.

Wesfarmers gained 4.9 per cent to $43.82 following broker upgrades after Tuesday's trading update regarding rising sales at Bunnings and Officeworks.

Harvey Norman gained 7.3 per cent to a three-month high of $3.81 after reporting second-half sales in Australia were up 17.5 per cent.

JB Hi-Fi rose 4.2 per cent to a four-month high of $42.

All of the big banks were lower following Tuesday's strong gains.

CBA dipped 0.8 per cent to $71.60, ANZ fell 1.1 per cent to $20.76, NAB declined 1.5 per cent to $20.16 and Westpac retreated 0.9 per cent to $19.70.

In the mining sector, BHP declined 0.4 per cent to $37.50, Rio Tinto dropped 0.9 per cent to $100.48 and South32 dropped 2.1 per cent to $2.29.

Goldminers shone as gold prices rebounded ahead of the Federal Reserve committee meeting, rising back to $US1,715 an ounce.

Saracen Mineral rose 8.5 per cent, while Evolution and Northern Star were both up a bit more than one per cent.

In the energy sector, Santos, Woodside and Beach Energy were down between 2.8 and 3.1 per cent after the price of Brent crude fell 0.3 per cent to just over $US40 a barrel.

Integral Diagnostics rose 14.6 per cent to $4.24 after announcing it had agreed to buy Auckland-based Ascot Radiology, a chain of nine diagnostic imaging clinics, for $47.7 million.

Kogan.com was in a trading halt after announcing a $115 million equity raising at a 7.5 per cent discount.

The money will be used to act quickly on opportunities that are arising given current market conditions, the internet retailer said.

IPH gained 3.3 per cent to $7.49 after its AJ Park subsidiary agreed to acquire NZ law firm Baldwins Intellectual Property for $7.4 million, adding to its stable of intellectual property law firms.

The Australian dollar was buying 69.88 US cents, up from 69.37 US cents at the close of trade on Tuesday

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Wednesday closed up 3.5 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 6,148.4 points

* The All Ordinaries closed up 6.4 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 6,269.3 points

* At 1731 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was up three points, or 0.05 per cent, at 6,132 points

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 69.95 US cents, from 69.37 US cents on Tuesday

* 75.06 Japanese yen, from 74.95 yen

* 61.61 euro cents, from 61.55 cents

* 54.79 British pence, from 54.73 pence

* 106.80 NZ cents, from 106.46 cents.