Finance

Australian shares bumped up as commodities bounce back

Shares on the Australian market might be on course for their strongest performance of the week, as the commodity sectors bounced back.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was up 63.6 points, or 0.94 per cent, to 6777.5 at 1200 AEDT on Friday.

The All Ordinaries was higher by 68.9 points, or 0.99 per cent, at 7021.8.

Energy was higher by 2.19 per cent after oil prices rose from a steep fall in US fuel supplies.

Materials was up 1.64 per cent as iron ore prices improved.

The sector with the biggest gain was information technology, up 2.67 per cent.

The tech sector gain followed US markets closing better as inflation fears subsided.

A bigger-than-expected fall in weekly jobless claims helped keep investors optimistic, following the signing of a $US1.9 trillion government stimulus bill the previous day.

The S&P 500 and the Dow closed at all-time highs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 188.57 points, or 0.58 per cent, to 32,485.59, the S&P 500 gained 40.53 points, or 1.04 per cent, to 3,939.34 and the Nasdaq Composite added 329.84 points, or 2.52 per cent, to 13,398.67.

Meanwhile the Australian government is maintaining confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine despite its use being suspended in parts of Europe.

Denmark, Norway and Iceland have temporarily stopped using the vaccine while authorities investigate whether it is linked to blood clots.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Australian authorities do not share their concerns.

On the ASX, Origin was among the companies in the energy sector benefiting from higher oil prices.

Shares rose 4.23 per cent to $4.68.

There were sizeable gains for miners. BHP was up 2.11 per cent to $47.79, Fortescue rose 2.35 per cent to $21.27, Rio Tinto climbed 1.12 per cent to $117.00 and BlueScope Steel sprung by 3.99 per cent to $18.48.

Financial regulator APRA closed its investigation into Westpac’s breaches of anti-money laundering and terror financing laws, but says it will make sure the bank improves its operations.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority on Friday said it made the decision after considering the results of an ASIC investigation into whether the bank’s same conduct breached the Corporations Act.

Westpac last year agreed to pay a $1.3 billion fine, having admitted to breaking international fund transfer laws 23 million times.

Shares were down 0.12 per cent to $24.50.

The other banks in the big four were better, although gained less than half a per cent.

In media, broadcaster Nine has told Southern Cross Media it will not extend their regional TV deal beyond June 30.

Southern Cross has broadcast Nine’s metro TV programs to regional parts of Queensland, NSW and Victoria since 2016.

Nine has instead signed a seven year deal with regional broadcaster WIN.

WIN will show Nine programs in Queensland, southern NSW, Tasmania, Victoria and regional Western Australia.

Southern Cross said it will talk to the Ten network about showing its programs to these regional areas.

Southern Cross shares crashed 10.40 per cent to $1.98.

Nine shares were better by 0.33 per cent to $3.04.

The Australian dollar was buying 77.92 US cents at 1200 AEDT, higher from 77.45 US cents at Thursday’s close.

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