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Aust share market rises to four-month high

 

The Australian share market has closed at its highest level since June, with investors starting to find value after the local bourse suffered a period of underperforming compared with its global peers, and Chinese trade data boosting sentiment.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index ended up by 19.7 points, 0.34 per cent, to 5,814.2 points on Friday, with nearly all sectors making gains and capping a solid week to leave the market up 1.8 per cent for the five-day period.

CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said Friday's lift was a continuation of a good performance over the week and was generated by several factors including Australia finally getting its share of a globally positive sentiment towards shares.

"Equity markets around the globe have been firm, and inside that, you've got this theme of (investors) just rotating in between markets and sectors, hunting for value," Mr Spooner said.

"The Australian market has been an underperformer recently and it's just the sort of thing where people start eventually looking for value, and I suspect that's what's happened with our stocks."

Mr Spooner also said markets generally in Asia had performed well on Friday, iron ore and steel futures in China had rallies, and on the local bourse, the federal government's announced changes to private health insurance had boosted some insurance and hospital stocks.

Chinese trade data released on Friday showing a surge in Chinese imports and reasonably solid exports added to the positive mood.

Health insurer NIB lifted by six cents, or one per cent, to $6.07 and Medibank Private rose six cents, or two per cent, to $3.10 after the federal government announced health insurance changes aimed at lowering policy premiums and providing easier access to mental healthcare.

Among the big banks, ANZ added 0.1 per cent to $30.06, Westpac gained 0.5 per cent to $33.00, and National Australia Bank picked up 0.3 per cent to $32.17.

Commonwealth Bank lifted 0.3 per cent to $76.66 as it said it will scrap financial incentives for bank tellers selling products, instead rewarding them for customer service.

Among the major mining stocks, BHP Billiton was 0.6 per cent richer at $26.36, Rio Tinto advanced 0.6 per cent to $68.21, and Fortescue Metals firmed 0.4 per cent to $4.89.

Energy shares lifted despite a slip in oil prices overnight.

Woodside Petroleum put on 0.3 per cent at $29.47, Santos ascended 0.5 per cent to $4.17, and Oil Search improved 0.3 per cent to $7.15.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was slightly higher against the US dollar, reflecting the rally in iron ore futures and the Chinese trade data.

The Aussie was trading at 78.36 US cents at 1630 AEDT, from 78.21 US cents on Thursday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 finished up 19.7 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 5,814.2 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 20.6 points, or 0.35 per cent, higher at 5,884.7 points.

* The SPI200 futures contract was up 26 points, or 0.45 per cent, at 5,794 points.

* National turnover was 3 billion securities traded worth $4.9 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT ON FRIDAY

One Australian dollar buys:

* 78.34 US cents, from 78.21 US cents on Thursday

* 87.8395 Japanese yen, from 87.81 yen

* 66.13 euro cents, from 65.84 euro cents

* 59.01 British pence, from 58.98 pence

* 109.8 NZ cents, from 109.93 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,295.96 per fine ounce, from $US1,296.18 per fine ounce on Thursday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.9986pct, from 2.0095pct on Thursday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.7459pct, from 2.7528pct

SYDNEY FUTURES EXCHANGE PRICES:

* December 2017 10-year bond futures contract was at 97.180 (implying a yield of 2.820pct) from 97.170 (2.830pct) on Thursday

* December 2017 3-year bond futures contract was at 97.86 (2.14pct), from 97.85 (2.15pct) on Thursday.

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)