(Australian Associated Press)
Investors had their best month on the Australian share market since November’s record gains, helped by strong Wednesday trade.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed up 52.3 points, or 0.78 per cent, to 6790.7 on Wednesday.
The All Ordinaries closed higher by 47.2 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 7017.
All sectors were up. Industrials was the standout and closed higher by 2.17 per cent.
For the month, the ASX200 gained 1.76 per cent. That is the biggest increase since November’s 9.96 per cent, a record for the index.
While the result may sound pleasing, Burman Invest chief investment officer Julia Lee said the Australian market had underperformed.
The US S&P 500 was 3.87 per cent higher and is still to have its last session for March.
“We’re playing catchup,” Ms Lee said of ASX Wednesday trade.
The next couple of months could be better for ASX investors, historically speaking.
“April and May tend to be a strong time,” Ms Lee said.
“We’ve had some dividends paid, and some of that money will find its way back to the market.”
The day’s trade also marked the end of the quarter. The ASX200 gained 3.09 per cent, down from a rise of 13.26 per cent the previous quarter.
The market on Wednesday defied a weak lead from the US, where investors sold tech-related growth shares after bond yields hit a 14-month high.
On the ASX, insurer Suncorp is calling for action by state governments after receiving thousands of flood damage claims, particularly from NSW.
About 75 per cent of the 7600 claims presented by the end of March were from NSW, with Queensland making up 20 per cent and the rest from Victoria and the ACT.
Suncorp boss Steve Johnson said flood mitigation measures were needed.
Shares were up 1.54 per cent to $9.90.
SG Fleet will buy the Australian and New Zealand operations of rival fleet manager LeasePlan for $273 million.
The deal will create a $2.5 billion business managing 250,00 vehicles.
SG Fleet will raise $86 million from shareholders to help fund the purchase.
Shares were suspended from trade on Friday and last traded for $2.58.
Buy now, pay later provider Zip said it will provide its payments service to JB Hi-Fi customers.
The service is expected to be offered from April.
Zip shares were higher by 0.41 per cent to $7.38.
JB Hi-Fi shares were better by 0.06 per cent to $51.78.
Gold prices fell to their lowest level in more than three weeks. Elevated US bond yields and a rising US dollar kept the metal on track for its biggest quarterly drop in over four years.
The gold price dropped below $US1700 per ounce late on Tuesday and was trading at about $US1683 at the time of publication.
Gold miner Northern Star dropped 2.77 per cent to $9.48, while peer Evolution slumped by 2.39 per cent to $4.08.
Among major miners, BHP gained 0.87 per cent to $45.30, Fortescue dropped 0.55 per cent to $19.99 and Rio Tinto climbed 1.05 per cent to $110.75.
In banking, each of the big four gained less than one per cent. Bendigo Bank climbed 1.72 per cent to $10.06.
On Thursday, housing figures for March will be released by CoreLogic after posting the fastest price rises in almost 18 years in February.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics will issue monthly lending data for February after demand for home loans struck a record high in January.
The trading week is shortened by the Good Friday public holiday.
The Australian dollar was buying 76.00 US cents at 1725 AEDT, lower from 76.52 US cents at Tuesday’s close.
ON THE ASX
* The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed up 52.3 points, or 0.78 per cent, to 6790.7 on Wednesday.
* The All Ordinaries closed higher by 47.2 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 7017.
* At 1725 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was higher by one point, or 0.01 per cent, and trading at 6767 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 76.00 US cents, from 76.52 cents on Tuesday
* 84.21 Japanese yen, from 84.13 yen
* 64.89 Euro cents, from 65.04 cents
* 55.35 British pence, from 55.56 pence
* 109.00 NZ cents, from 108.98 cents.