The West Australian

Stocks on track for new high

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Australia’s share market closed yesterday at its highest level since February 2020 for a second day, nearing the record.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed higher by 35.5 points, or 0.51 per cent, at 7058.6.

The index traded lower for the first two hours but soon moved higher.

The ASX200 is a little more than 100 points from its record close of 7162.49, set on February 20 last year.

The record was set days before investors rushed to sell stocks due to fear of the coronaviru­s impact.

The All Ordinaries on Thursday closed up by 36.9 points, or 0.51 per cent, to 7317.5 points.

The market milestone followed earlier news Australia’s March unemployme­nt rate had unexpected­ly fallen to 5.6 per cent.

This was despite employers preparing for the JobKeeper wage subsidy to expire in the same month.

Deep Data Analytics chief executive Mathan Somasundar­am was unsure whether the jobs data spurred buying on the market.

He said the ASX200 index’s gradual upward movement yesterday showed signs of a global investor executing a programmed order, likely for the currency trade.

Mr Somasundar­am wondered whether the ASX200 could break its record soon.

“The real test will be next week because you will get all the fund managers coming back to work (from Easter holidays),” he said.

The US reporting season began overnight, with US banks producing solid results.

In ASX trade, the materials and energy sectors soared by 1.83 per cent and 1.18 per cent respective­ly. Financials rose 0.43 per cent. The biggest loss was in utilities, 0.89 per cent.

In banking, the big four all gained less than one per cent. Westpac was best, up 0.67 per cent to $25.50.

Fuel provider Ampol reported first quarter earnings rose to $150 million from $142m in the same quarter last year.

Shares were up 5.41 per cent to $25.73.

Qantas said in a trading update that demand for domestic flights was expected to be close to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year.

Shares were down 0.19 per cent to $5.20.

In mining, BHP rose 2.87 per cent to $47.33, Fortescue gained 3.51 per cent to $20.95 and Rio Tinto climbed 2.96 per cent to $117.71.

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