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ASX hits record high as Iran tensions ease

Derek Rose
Every sector except for energy finished higher, with tech stocks leading the charge

The Australian share market has hit a record closing high on a relief rally after the US-Iranian conflict de-escalated following days of tension.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed on Thursday up 56.6 points, or 0.83 per cent, to 6,874.2 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 61.3 points, or 0.88 per cent, to 6,991.4 points.

The close eclipsed the previous record closing high of 6,864 set on November 28, with Thursday's trading peak of 6,889.2 just 4.5 points from breaching the all-time intraday high of 6,893.7 set on November 29.

The ASX200 has already gained 2.84 per cent in just six trading days so far this year, following an 18.38 per cent rise in 2019.

"The local bourse is a lot stronger today, it's a nice bounce back," said Australian Stock Report senior advisor Ben Le Brun.

"It's playing out as per the usual script for geopolitical tension."

As the conflict eased, gold and oil prices retreated from their recent highs, dragging down goldminers and oil producers.

The energy sector was the only one of the ASX's 11 sectors to fall, dipping 0.9 per cent as the price of Brent crude dropped back down to $US65.90 a barrel, from over $US70.

Woodside Petroleum fell 1.5 per cent, Oil Search was down 1.8 per cent and Beach Energy fell 2.2 per cent.

Goldminers were also down as the price of gold fell to $US1,557 an ounce, from over a peak of $US1,611 an ounce on Wednesday.

Newcrest, Northern Star, Evolution, Resolute Mining and Regis Resources all fell between 2.5 and 3.6 per cent.

Overall the mining sector was up 0.8 per cent, however, as heavyweight BHP gained 1.2 per cent to $40.03 and Rio Tinto rose 1.3 per cent to $102.19.

Lithium miner Galaxy Resources gained 8.1 per cent to $1.14 after meeting the upper end of production guidance for the December quarter.

Tech stocks gained the most, 2.2 per cent as a whole, as aerial mapping company Nearmap rose 5.7 per cent to $2.60 and logistics software firm WiseTech Global gained 4.0 per cent to $24.07.

The financial sector was up 0.5 per cent, with the big four banks mixed.

Commonwealth gained 0.7 per cent to $81.49, ANZ rose 0.1 per cent to $24.89 and NAB was up one cent to $24.83, while Westpac dipped 0.3 per cent to $24.47.

Investment companies bounced back from Wednesday's losses after two firms were downgraded by Credit Suisse, with Magellan up 6.0 per cent to an all-time high of $62.47, Platinum Asset Management up 5.5 per cent and Pendal Group gaining 3.2 per cent.

Suncorp gained 1.3 per cent to $13.19 despite announcing that its natural hazard claims for the six months to December 31 were $519 million, $109 million above its natural hazard allowance, following the bushfire crisis.

CSL rose 1.8 per cent to close above $290 for the first time ever, finishing $291.10.

Wesfarmers and JB Hi-Fi also set all-time highs, finishing up 0.9 per cent to $43.29 and up 4.1 per cent to $40.07, respectively.

Catapult Group gained 9.5 per cent to a nearly one-month high of $1.85 after signing a deal to provide wearable technology to all the teams in Colombia's football league, Dimayor.

Meanwhile the Australian dollar was buying 68.74 US cents, a touch up from 69.73 cents at Wednesday's close.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 56.6 points, or 0.83 per cent, at 6,874.2 points.

* The All Ordinaries was up 61.3 points, or 0.88 per cent, at 6,991.4 points.

* The SPI200 futures index closed up 63 points, or 0.93 per cent, at 6,815 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 69.74 US cents, from 69.73 US cents on Wednesday

* 75.12 Japanese yen, from 74.43 yen

* 61.83 euro cents, from 61.64 cents

* 52.40 British pence, from 52.36 pence

* 103.40 NZ cents, from 103.47 cents