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Markets wrap: ASX 200 shrugs off tech and materials slump to climb to great heights

The Australian market rode industrial and real estate shares to finish at its highest point so far this year after a swag of quarterly updates were released to investors.

Blue chip stocks helped the benchmark ASX 200 index gain 0.31 per cent to 7592.8 points on Thursday, reaching heights not seen since January.

The broader All Ordinaries rose by 0.22 per cent to 7887.1 points, while the Australian dollar was steady, hovering around 0.74 US cents.

Challenger Financial led the session with gains of 9.81 per cent to $7.5 after upgrading its very rosy net-profit guidance to investors.

Logistics player Brambles enjoyed an 8 per cent boost to its shares to $10.82, which helped to lift industrials by 2.23 per cent and pave the way for eight of the 11 local sectors to record gains during the session.

Other strong industrial players included Qantas, whose shares rose by 3.87 per cent to $5.64 amid optimism international travel is gaining momentum.

The real estate sector finished the day up 2.1 per cent, with Sydney property group Lendlease leading the way with a 5 per cent increase to $12.06.

It was a different story for Australian tech stocks, which dragged for a second day following another poor overnight showing on Wall Street, where the tech-heavy Nasdaq declined again amid a dramatic fall in Netflix shares.

US investors have been spooked since the streaming giant announced on Wednesday it had lost more than 200,000 subscribers in the first three months of the year.

The local IT sector fell by more than 2.6 per cent after it was dragged down by shares in data connectivity group Megaport, which plummeted by 21.6 per cent to $10.01 after its trading update failed to impress investors.

Shares in Square, the US payments giant, fell 6.9 per cent, while Life 360 fell 5.3 per cent.

Betmakers was another winner of the day, with its shares leaping 21 per cent to 78 cents after the wagering software business confirmed it had struck a deal with News Corp, publisher of The Australian, to build the platform for a new online betting venture.

The shine on commodities has dulled, with global oil prices mixed as traders continued to assess the fallout from the war in Ukraine in a week in which the IMF has downgraded its global growth forecasts and China committed to cutting its steel production this year.

The miners dragged down the index again on Thursday with giants BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals all suffering drops and shares in lithium player AVZ Minerals falling by 5.93 per cent to $0.07.

BHP stocks dropped 3.1 per cent to $50.70 after its quarterly update warned of a drop in exports due to labour shortages, prompting a flurry sell-offs.

Rio Tinto fell again by 1.6 per cent to $116.36, building on its losses from Wednesday when the release of its quarterly update did little to woo shareholders.

The big banks had a good day, with financial stocks bumped up 1.1 per cent. Macquarie led with an increase of 2.07 per cent to $210.95.

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