(Australian Associated Press)
The Australian share market has closed higher as every sector except for the miners rallied ahead of highly anticipated testimony by the US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished up 24.1 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 6,689.8 points at 1615 AEST on Wednesday, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 27.6 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 6,777.7.
“We’ve seen general strength across the market,” said CMC Markets chief market analyst Michael McCarthy.
Traders were waiting to see what if Mr Powell would give any clues on interest rates in his testimony before Congress later on Wednesday and Thursday, after strong jobs numbers last Friday dampened expectations of an interest rate cut, Mr McCarthy said.
Consumer staples stocks were the biggest gainers, up 1.9 per cent as a whole, led by Kiwi milk and infant formula company a2 Milk.
A2 was the biggest gainer on the ASX200, shooting up up eight per cent to a two-month high of $15.66 following a series of broker upgrades.
Treasury Wine Estate was up 2.4 per cent to $16.01, Woolworths gained one per cent to $34.49 and Coles was up 0.8 per cent to $14.03.
Also, Breville Group was up 3.5 to $17.61, Kogan.com up 5.3 per cent to $5.40 and Just Jeans and Smiggle owner Premier Investments up 5.3 per cent to $16.04.
The Morrison government’s planned tax rebates were boosting the share price of consumer stocks, particularly retail companies, Mr McCarthy said.
Tech stocks had a strong day, up 1.8 per cent, with supply chain logistics company Wisetech Global up four per cent to $29.41, close to an all-time high set June 20.
Among the other so-called “WAAAX” tech stocks, Appen gained 3.2 per cent to $29.44, Altium was up 2.7 per cent to $35.28 and Xero was up 1.9 per cent to $63.47, but Afterpay dipped 0.4 per cent to $25.59.
The big banks were mixed, with Commonwealth up 0.3 per cent to $81.24, ANZ down 0.6 per cent to $27.53, NAB up 0.7 per cent to $26.86 and Westpac down 0.1 per cent to $27.87.
Mining was down 0.5 per cent, led by South32 which fell 2.6 per cent to a six-month low of $3.06.
BHP was down 0.2 per cent to $40.96, Rio Tinto down 0.7 per cent to $103.67 and Fortescue Metals down 0.5 per cent to $8.89 after iron ore prices pulled back from last week’s highs.
Gold miners were under pressure as the price of the yellow metal dipped against the US dollar, with Evolution Mining down 2.3 per cent to $4.32, although Newcrest gained 0.4 per cent to $31.49.
There were two large trades, for Telstra and Scentre Group shares, but otherwise trading volume was light with the school holidays underway, Mr McCarthy said.
“Clearly there are some traders who take their children to Europe or wherever,” he said.
The Aussie dollar is buying 69.21 US cents, from 69.52 US cents on Tuesday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 24.1 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 6,689.8 points at 1630 AEST on Wednesday.
* The All Ordinaries was up 27.6 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 6,777.7.
* At 1630 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was flat at 6,630.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 69.16 US cents, from 69.52 US cents on Tuesday
* 75.34 Japanese yen, from 75.65 yen
* 61.69 euro cents, from 62.02 cents
* 55.54 British pence, from 55.67 pence
* 104.78 NZ cents, from 104.97 cents.