More records on ASX, AUD below US 77 cents | Ralph-Lauren

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Investors have sent shares on the Australian market to new heights as market heavyweights CSL and the banks received big boosts.

Shares on the ASX200 were one per cent higher and reached 7394.3 points early after the US S&P 500 and Nasdaq made record highs.

Healthcare shares were up 2.28 per cent. CSL was higher by 2.07 per cent to $302.80.

Financial shares were up 1.33 per cent. The big four banks were all higher by more than one per cent.

Consumer staples were a notable improver and higher by more than two per cent.

Supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths rose by the same measure.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was higher by 73.9 points, or 1.01 per cent, to 7386.2 at 1200 AEST on Tuesday.

The All Ordinaries was up by 64.2 points, or 0.84 per cent, to 7641.4.

In the US, investors are seeking new cues from the central bank at its two-day meeting this week.

While the Federal Reserve has reassured that any spike in inflation would be transitory, policymakers could discuss the tapering of bond buying.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 gained 0.18 per cent, the Nasdaq rose 0.74 per cent and the Dow Jones lost 0.25 per cent.

In Australia, the Reserve Bank board believes the economy is expanding with more momentum than previously anticipated.

The minutes of its June 1 board meeting say this was the result of favourable health outcomes and substantial fiscal and monetary policy support.

The RBA is sticking to the line that interest rates will not rise until inflation is sustainably within its two to three per cent inflation target.

The Aussie dollar fell below US 77 cents in the wake of the minutes being published.

On the ASX, US investment group Oaktree has improved its offer to buy James Packer’s shares in Crown Resorts.

Oaktree has increased its funding offer from $3 billion to $3.1 billion, and made other changes, in its bid to buy Consolidated Press Holdings’ shares.

Crown shares were lower by 0.36 per cent to $12.17.

Insurer Suncorp has fielded about 3,750 claims from customers following the heavy rain and flash flooding that continues to plague large parts of Victoria.

The claims are mostly for property damage since winds of up to 125km/h and heavy rain lashed the state from Wednesday night. Two people have died.

The insurer, which has brands AAMI, Apia and GIO, said claim numbers were expected to rise for weeks.

Shares were higher by 0.71 per cent to $11.30.

In banking, the Commonwealth was best of the big four and higher by 1.54 per cent to $102.93.

Bank of Queensland will reduce the amount of money it sets aside for bad debts by $75 million.

Boss George Frazis said the improved economic outlook meant the bank could reduce its quarterly amount.

Shares were up 1.25 per cent to $8.88.

Materials shares were little changed but there were varying results for the biggest players.

Fortescue and Rio Tinto gained about one per cent. BHP was little changed.

Shipbuilder Austal lowered its full-year earnings forecast due to the effects of COVID-19 border restrictions and resourcing challenges.

These problems were affecting shipbuilding at the company’s sites in Australia and the Philippines.

Earnings before interest and tax were forecast to be between $112 million and $118 million. The previous estimate was $125 million.

Shares dropped 7.72 per cent to $2.15.

The Australian dollar was buying 76.97 US cents at 1200 AEST, lower from 77.62 US cents at Friday’s close.

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