ASX closes higher as big banks bounce back

Australian shares have closed higher with most sectors gaining amid a broad rally.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 52.6 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 6,251.3 points at 1615 AEST on Friday, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 52.9 points, or 0.84 per cent, to 6,347.

“It’s been a pretty solid day,” said Kyle Rodda, market analyst for IG Australia, although he noted that trading volumes were light.

“You wouldn’t say this is an exuberant expression of bullishness, but again, it’s a solid day.”

There was no obvious reason for the rally, he said.

For the week the market closed 1.13 per cent up.

The big banks provided most of the boost, with Commonwealth Bank up 1.95 per cent to $71.63, ANZ up two per cent to $26.02, Westpac up 1.37 per cent to $25.92 and NAB up 1.02 per cent to $24.69.

QBE Insurance Group gained 2.34 per cent to $12.70, a nearly two-year high, while Macquarie Group gained 1.12 per cent to $132.

Woolworths was up 1.84 per cent to $31 and Wesfarmers gained 1.28 per cent to $34.73.

The only sectors to fall were the miners, which down 0.22 per cent, and health care stocks, down 0.41 per cent.

Pharma giant CSL dropped 0.57 per cent to $197.86 while Cochlear dropped 2.23 per cent to $165.10.

Mining giant BHP dropped 0.15 per cent to $39.58 and South32 fell 1.12 per cent to $3.54, while Rio Tinto was flat at $100.5.

Shares in price comparison platform iSelect bounced back after being down earlier in the day, after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleged the website had been favouring some partner energy retailers.

ISelect stock closed at 63 cents, up 2.44 per cent.

Intellectual property law firm holding group IPH gained 2.16 per cent to $7.10 after the Xenith board of directors unanimously recommended that shareholders spurn a merger with QANTM for IPH’s takeover bid of $2.25 a share.

Xenith stock rose 0.95 per cent to $2.12, while QANTM shares rose 2.65 per cent to $135.5.

If shareholders approve the IPH-Xenith merger in July the combined company will consist of many of Australia’s leading intellectual property law firms.

The local currency moved sharply lower after the release of the RBA’s Financial Stability Review before regaining some ground.

The Aussie dollar is buying 71.27 US cents, from 71.61 US cents on Thursday.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 52.6 points, or 0.85 per cent, to 6,251.3 points at 1630 AEST on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries was down 52.9 points, or 0.84 per cent, to 6,347.

* At 1630 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was up 51 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 6,236.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 71.61 US cents, from 71.61 US on Thursday

* 79.70 Japanese yen, from 79.44 yen

* 63.15 euro cents, from 63.41 euro cents

* 54.56 British pence, from 54.68 pence

* 105.88 NZ cents, from 105.85 cents

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