Australian sharemarket: Technology, utilities and banking help ASX close higher


Technology, utilities and banking sectors saw gains, as the Australian sharemarket climbed on Thursday.

The benchmark ASX 200 index gained 23.40 points, or 0.31 per cent, to finish the session at 7639.2 points.

Top performing stocks were AGL Energy (up 10.28 per cent) and media giant News Corporation (up 6.30 per cent).

Six of 11 sectors closed in the green with technology (up 1.18 per cent), utilities (up 0.97 per cent) and financials (up 0.88 per cent) performing the strongest.

Gains in major banks also supported the market, while the energy sector fared the worst, down 0.52 per cent.

The broader All Ordinaries also closed higher, gaining 24.3 points, or 0.31 per cent, to 7875.2.

The top stocks were industrial minerals and technology company Syrah Resources (up 20 per cent) and technology company Calix (up 18.24 per cent).

The Australian dollar is trading at about US$65.20.

Property group Mirvac gained 4.67 per cent after reporting, while hearing device manufacturer Cochlear climbed 4.44 per cent.

Some of the major drops were fly-in fly-out services operator Alliance Aviation Services (down 4.51 per cent) and property advertising business REA Group (down 4.18 per cent).

In the resources sector, BHP fell 0.1 per cent, while Rio Tinto dipped 0.29 per cent and Fortescue Metals was up 0.45 per cent.

Santos fell 0.95 per cent, while Woodside dropped 0.21 per cent the day after dumping a potential $80bn merger deal.

In banking, CBA gained 0.92 per cent, Westpac rose 0.32 per cent, ANZ climbed 0.8 per cent and NAB closed 0.87 per cent higher.

It was also revealed on Thursday that Nigel Garrard would become chair of global laboratory testing giant ALS when Bruce Phillips retires in July.

Meanwhile, Chinese shares were up 0.2 per cent so far on Thursday after climbing for three consecutive sessions, moving it away from five-year lows.

China’s consumer price index fell 0.8 per cent in January from one year earlier, which was more than economists had predicted.

“(It) has reinforced the need for Chinese authorities to step up and provide more substantial stimulus to prevent the deflationary spiral from gaining further traction,” market analyst Tony Sycamore said.

At the close of trade on Wall Street on Wednesday, the Dow Jones index climbed 156 points or 0.4 per cent and the S&P 500 index gained 0.8 per cent — both closing at record highs.

The Nasdaq index added 148 points or one per cent.

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