Christmas cheer as Australian shares hit 10-month high

The local share market has closed at its highest level in 10 months after rising for a seventh time out of its past eight sessions. 

The S&P/ASX200 on Tuesday finished up 62.7 points, or 0.84 per cent, to 7,489.1, its highest closing level since February 8.

 The broader All Ordinaries rose 66.3 points, or 0.87 per cent, to 7,715.9.

"Ho-ho-ho. It’s a textbook Santa rally with four trading days left until Christmas," market analyst Kyle Rodda said.

"Despite the efforts of a couple of Grinchy Fed speakers to push back on the rally in equities, momentum is to the upside." 

The ASX200 is now up 6.4 per cent for the year, having risen 10.9 per cent since hitting a 12-month nadir in late October.

Tuesday's gains came as the Reserve Bank released minutes showing the board had considered a rate hike at its December 5 meeting before opting to leave rates on hold, and was still open to a hike in 2024.

Assessing the minutes, ANZ economist Adam Boyton said the bank's view remained that the cash rate had peaked at 4.35 per cent, but that the RBA would not begin cutting rates until around November 2024.

NAB head of market economics Tapas Strickland said the bank continues to forecast the RBA hiking the cash rate in February, though much depended on the January 31 inflation readout for the December quarter.

All 11 sectors of the ASX finished higher with utilities gaining the most, climbing 1.8 per cent as Origin Energy added 3.2 per cent to $8.28.

Westpac led gainers among the Big Four banks, climbing 0.8 per cent to $22.65. CBA rose 0.6 per cent to $110.60, NAB added 0.5 per cent to $30.35 and ANZ finished 0.4 per cent higher at $25.63.

In the heavyweight mining sector, Fortescue rose 1.1 per cent to $28.09, Rio Tinto was up 0.7 per cent to $132.24 and BHP rose 0.6 per cent to $49.62.

Lithium miner Allkem fell 0.6 per cent to $10.59 as shareholders approved its $9.7 billion all-scrip merger with US-based Livent. 

The new company, Arcadium Lithium, will be the world's third-largest lithium producer by volume, and Allkem managing director and chief executive Martin Perez de Solay said it would have the scale and expertise to meet the rapidly growing demand for lithium chemical products, an essential component of electric vehicle batteries.

Fellow lithium developer Liontown Resources meanwhile rose 10.9 per cent to a five-week high of $1.625.

Goldminer Evolution was up 1.1 per cent and Northern Star rose 1.4 per cent as the price of the yellow metal hovered just above $US2,202 an ounce.

G8 Education climbed 13.6 per cent to a nearly two-month high of $1.13 after the early childhood education provider said its performance in the second half had been markedly improved, with wages effectively managed and lower customer attrition.

The Australian dollar was buying 67.17 US cents, from 67.25 US cents at Monday's ASX close.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Tuesday up 62.7 points, or 0.84 per cent, at 7,489.1.

* The broader All Ordinaries gained 66.3 points, or 0.87 per cent, to 7,715.9.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 67.17 US cents, from 67.25 US cents at Monday's ASX close

* 96.41 Japanese yen, from 95.65 Japanese yen

* 61.48 Euro cents, from 61.60 Euro cents

* 53.07 British pence, from 53.01 pence

* 107.86 NZ cents, from 107.69 NZ cents

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