Investors have had their best gains of the week on the Australian share market, ahead of US President-elect Joe Biden giving details of his economic stimulus plan.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 28.7 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 6715.3 on Thursday.
The closing level was the index’s highest since February 25 last year, when investors started a selling spree due to the coronavirus.
The All Ordinaries closed higher by 28.8 points, or 0.41 per cent, at 6982.7.
ThinkMarkets analyst Carl Capolingua said the ASX performance was typical of a market which had traded sideways since November.
The ASX200 had its best month on record in November, gains of almost 10 per cent, as investors got excited about coronavirus vaccines.
“We’re taking some time to digest those November gains,” Mr Capolingua said of the indices’ long-term movement.
The information technology sector was best on Thursday, up 4.73 per cent.
Afterpay had a 9.74 per cent rise to $121.00 after US buy now pay later provider Affirm almost doubled in value following its initial public offering on the Nasdaq.
Mr Capolingua said similar providers on the ASX could continue to benefit.
“Investors here will look at the valuations the Americans have put on Affirm,” Mr Capolingua said.
“If they believe the benchmark has been set, there is potential for more rises here.”
The Nasdaq and S&P 500 had modest rises, while the Dow Jones fell, ahead of the incoming US administration’s fiscal relief plan.
The details may include bigger cash payments for most Americans. This would help an economy ravaged by the coronavirus.
Meanwhile Donald Trump became the first US president to be impeached twice, as 10 fellow Republicans joined Democrats to charge him with inciting supporters’ violent rampage in the Capitol building last week.
Domestically, there were no local infections of coronavirus reported across Australia.
On the ASX, health imaging provider Pro Medicus surged by 14.98 per cent to $36.53 after US subsidiary Visage Imaging signed a $40 million, seven-year contract with the largest health system in the state of Utah.
Visage will provide radiology and imaging products.
New Zealand buy now pay later provider Laybuy jumped 13.73 per cent to $1.45 after merchants’ third-quarter sales using the service rose 184 per cent on the same period last year.
Merchants’ sales using Laybuy were $NZ182 million ($169 million), of which Laybuy will take fees.
Its UK arm claimed a 439 per cent jump in active customers on the same period last year.
Whitehaven Coal gained 3.14 per cent to $1.80 after it improved guidance on coal sales for the financial year.
Whitehaven said coal sales would be between 19 million tonnes to 20 million tonnes, from an earlier forecast of 18.5 million tonnes to 20 million tonnes.
Rio Tinto signed an electricity deal that it said will allow New Zealand’s aluminium smelter to continue to the end of 2024.
Rio signed a deal with Meridian Energy to provide power, which is the biggest cost in running the smelter.
Shares were down 0.89 per cent to $119.66.
Among rivals, BHP slipped 0.35 per cent to $46.06 and Fortescue lost 1.63 per cent to $24.76.
Banks did better. ANZ closed up 1.82 per cent to $24.60, the Commonwealth edged higher by 0.42 per cent to $86.33, NAB gained 1.28 per cent to $23.78 and Westpac climbed 2.09 per cent to $21.03.
On Friday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release monthly lending figures for November.
The Aussie dollar was buying 77.64 US cents at 1717 AEDT, the same as at the close of trade on Wednesday.
ON THE ASX
* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 28.7 points, or 0.43 per cent, to 6715.3 on Thursday.
* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 28.8 points, or 0.41 per cent, at 6982.7.
* At 1717 AEDT, the SPI200 futures was higher by one point, or 0.02 per cent, at 6650 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 77.64 US cents, from 77.64 cents on Wednesday
* 80.76 Japanese yen, from 80.51 yen
* 63.88 Euro cents, from 63.58 cents
* 56.92 British pence, from 56.77 pence
* 107.74 NZ cents, from 107.48 cents.