Australian shares gain, enjoy second-best week of 2023

The Santa rally appears to be coming early this year, with the local bourse rising for a sixth straight day in its second-best week of the year.

The S&P/ASX200 index on Friday finished up 64.8 points, or 0.88 per cent, to 7,442.7, while the broader All Ordinaries rose 62.5 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 7,661.9.

For the week, the ASX200 gained 3.44 per cent, its best weekly performance since a 3.7 per cent gain in mid-July.

AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said share markets around the world had risen after the US Federal Reserve finally pivoted towards rate cuts and numerous other central banks left rates on hold.

"It’s now looking almost certain that rates have peaked in major central banks and they are moving towards rate cuts," he said. 

"This is all being driven by the ongoing fall in inflation", Dr Oliver said, with inflation as measured by the US consumer price index dropping again this week.  

Eight of the ASX's 11 sectors finished higher on Friday, with energy and mining the biggest gainers, rising 1.9 per cent.

BHP rose 2.4 per cent to an 11-month high of $49.41, Fortescue climbed 1.4 per cent to an all-time high of $27.85 and Rio Tinto added 2.2 per cent to a two and a half year high of $132.86.

In the energy sector, Santos advanced 3.2 per cent to a six-week high of $7.75, Woodside added 1.4 per cent to a week and a half high of $30.58 and Whitehaven Coal rose 0.8 per cent to $7.19.

All of the Big Four banks finished higher, with ANZ adding 1.2 per cent to $25.54, Westpac rising 0.9 per cent to $22.49, NAB climbing 0.8 per cent to $30.18 and CBA finishing 0.5 per cent higher at $110.07.

Both Healius and Australian Clinical Labs finished 0.7 per cent lower after the latter withdrew its takeover bid for the former in what would have been a tie-up between the No. 3 and No. 2 pathology chains in Australia. 

The competition regulator on Friday moved to block the proposed acquisition but ACL said its change of heart was motivated by a deterioration in Healius' trading performance and its recent $187 million capital raising.

Adbri rose 8.6 per cent to $2.27 after the cement manufacturer moderately raised its full-year guidance, saying it had experienced strong demand for its products in the second half.

Adbri also advised that a roughly $400 million project to upgrade its cement plant in Kwinana, Western Australia, was on track to be completed by the second quarter of next year.  

The Australian dollar meanwhile was buying 67.14 US cents, from 67.13 US cents at Thursday's ASX close.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Friday up 64.8 points, or 0.88 per cent, at 7,442.7.

* The broader All Ordinaries climbed 62.5 points, or 0.82 per cent, to 7,661.9.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 66.98 US cents, from 67.17 US cents at Thursday's ASX close

* 95.08 Japanese yen, from 95.22 Japanese yen

* 60.99 Euro cents, from 61.62 Euro cents

* 52.52 British pence, from 53.14 pence

* 108.11 NZ cents, from 107.75 NZ cents.

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