The Australian sharemarket has recovered from early weakness to finish higher, with every sector rising except banking as Westpac traded ex-dividend.
The S&P/ASX200 index hit its highest level in the final minutes of trade to close up 43.6 points, or 0.69 per cent, to 6327.8. The all ordinaries was up 46.6 points, or 0.73 per cent, to 6417.5.
The energy sector was the biggest gainer, up 2.2 per cent, as oil prices rose amid tensions in the Middle East.
Origin Energy gained 4 per cent to $7.74, Woodside Petroleum was up 1.6 per cent to $36.77, Santos gained 2.1 per cent to $7.28 and Oil Search was up 2.3 per cent to $7.64.
Tech shares were the second biggest gainer, up 1.57 per cent, with Xero hitting an all-time high of $60.15 — up $5.84, or 10.75 per cent — after the New Zealand cloud-based accounting platform cut its underlying full-year loss by 63 per cent and grew its subscriber base by 31 per cent.
The mining sector was up 1.1 per cent as a whole, with BHP up 0.9 per cent to $37.54, South32 up 1.73 to $3.52 and Rio Tinto up one per cent to $99.28.
Fortescue Metals gained 3.2 per cent to $8.40, its highest level since 2008.
The big four banks were mixed.
Commonwealth Bank gained 1.1 per cent to $73.33 and ANZ gained 1.4 per cent to $26.66, while NAB fell 0.33 per cent to $24.20 and Westpac fell 3.87 per cent to $25.85 as it went ex-dividend.
CSR was up 0.3 per cent to $3.37 after the construction materials company named Julie Coates its new chief executive and managing director.
Blackmores was down 1.54 per cent to $88.10 after the supplement maker announced its managing director for Australia and New Zealand was leaving for skincare manufacturer BWX.
BWX shares slumped 15 per cent to $1.70 after announcing a global restructure along with David Fenton’s appointment.
The Australian dollar dropped from US69.30¢ on Wednesday to US69.13¢ on Thursday after official data showed the country’s unemployment rate rose in April, adding pressure on the Reserve Bank to deliver a rate cut.
Nick Twidale, chief operating officer with Rakuten Securities, said despite Thursday’s gains, traders were still skittish about the US-China trade talks and the possibility the trade war would heat up.
“It really will affect global growth,” he said.
Those global concerns outweigh anything to do with Australia’s economy, an interest rate cut or Saturday’s Federal election, Mr Twidale said, though he did not discount the possibility of a relief rally if the Liberals manage to hold power.
But the nature of Australia’s economy is that its market can get “pushed around”, with global issues weighing more than domestic concerns, he said.
“That’s just natural with a commodity-exporting country.”