It was a bullish tale on Thursday, as the Australian sharemarket stepped closer to February 2020 at a 7,197.20-record high.
Now within a stone’s throw of reclaiming its record high, the ASX managed to advance to the post-pandemic high on Thursday as strong gains from the miners helped push the market closer to last year’s record.
At the closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose +35.5 points, or +0.51%, to 7,058.6.
The broad All Ordinaries index added +36.9 points, or +0.51%, to 7,317.5 and cruised through the all-time peak of 7,289.7 set on 17 February 2020.
Overnight, U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Wednesday said the central bank will reduce its bond purchases likely well before it hikes interest rates.
“We will reach the time at which we will taper asset purchases when we have made substantial further progress towards our goals from last December,” Powell said to the Economic Club of Washington.
“That would in all likelihood be before, well before, the time we would consider raising interest rates. We have not voted on that order, but that is the sense of the guidance.”
Meanwhile, good news emerged after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the national economy created 70,700 new jobs in March, pushing the jobless rate lower to 5.6% from February’s 5.8%, with the forecast crushed at 5.7%.
Full time employment -20.8k s/adj, while participation rate +66.3 pct, s/adj.
Materials climbed +1.83%, with Fortescue Metals Group lifting the titans higher after rallying +3.51% to $20.95, while Rio Tinto Limited rose +2.96% to $117.71 and BHP Group added +2.87%, to $47.33.
Gold miners once again lost their shine, with Newcrest Mining falling -1.25%, to $26.85, Northern Star Resources lost -3.37%, to $10.89, and Evolution Mining Ltd dropped -5.56%, to $4.42.
As for our oil and gas producers, Woodside Petroleum rose +0.79% to $24.35, while Oil Search rose +1.25% to $4.05, Origin Energy rose +0.21%, to $4.70, Santos added +2.28%, to $7.18, and Worley climbed +1.32% to $10.75.
Telstra tumbled -1.15%, to $3.43, while Woolworths rose +1.23%, to $42.01, Wesfarmers added +0.16%, to $55.16, QBE Insurance rose +1.43%, to $9.91, and Aristocrat Leisure climbed +1.2%, to $37.17.
The Financial sector was firmer with Westpac Banking Corp leading the “Fab Four” (banks) higher by +0.67%, to $25.50, while National Australia Bank ended up +0.67%, to $25.50, Commonwealth Bank added +0.13%, to $87.91, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose +0.1%, to $28.92 and Macquarie Group rose +1.64% and settled at $157.85.
Travel and tourism companies rose with Helloworld climbed +3.47%, to $2.09, Corporate Travel Management added +0.95%, to $19.09, Webjet rose +2.13%, to $5.28, Flight Centre eked +0.06%, to $17.77 and Qantas lost -0.19% to $5.20.
Real estate shares were weaker, with Charter Hall falling -0.89%, to $13.37, Lendlease added +0.38%, to $13.30, and Goodman Group ended flat at $18.65.
Biotechnology giant CSL gained +0.18%, to $268.29, while ResMed lost -0.81%, to $26.83, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare fell -0.87%, to $30.60, while Cochlear lost -0.1%, to $223.97 and Mesoblast added +0.88%, to $2.30.
Our local currency, the Australian dollar, is currently buying US$0.7755 (as of writing).