ASX's best week in nine after flat Friday

·4-min read

Australia's share market has had its best week in the past nine after reaching post-pandemic heights but a market analyst warns inflation fears could be realised in data next week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 3.6 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 6995.2 on Friday, after a good lead from US markets.

The All Ordinaries closed higher by two points, or 0.03 per cent, to 7252.3 points.

The market was down for most of the session but investors rallied late.

In a trading week shortened by Easter, the ASX200 gained 2.44 per cent.

On Thursday, the index briefly rose to more than 7000 points then closed at its highest level since the coronavirus crash, 6998.8.

The milestone came in a week in which the Australian and US central banks reinforced their messages that they would remain patient before raising rates, despite their economies recovering from the coronavirus.

US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell signalled at an International Monetary Fund event that the central bank is not close to reducing support for the economy.

He said while economic recovery could result in higher prices temporarily, it will not constitute inflation.

Yet Deep Data Analytics chief executive Mathan Somasundaram believed Friday's inflation figures from China could be followed by similar moves in the US.

Chinese consumer prices rose 0.4 per cent year on year in March. That exceeded expectations for an increase of 0.3 per cent.

"If the Chinese are seeing inflationary pressures despite their currency being strong, I would think we'll see decent moves in the US inflationary outlook," Mr Somasundaram said.

US inflation data is due next week.

Meanwhile vaccinating Australians against the virus may take until next year despite the ordering of 20 million more Pfizer doses.

Health supremos have recommended not giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to people under 50 because of a rare but serious blood clot side effect.

It means the vaccine program is unlikely to be completed until 2022, well after the Morrison government's October target.

Market heavyweight CSL, which has been producing the AstraZeneca vaccine, was down 0.96 per cent to $263.40.

Travel stocks slumped. Corporate Travel Management fell 2.95 per cent to $18.77. Webjet slipped 2.53 per cent to $5.40.

Air New Zealand moved a capital raising deadline back to September 30.

The airline was due to raise funds by June 30 but company leaders want more time to consider vaccinations and travel arrangements with Australia.

In the interim, the airline has reworked its loan from the New Zealand government and will borrow an extra $600 million. The total loan is $1.5 billion.

Shares were up 2.11 per cent to $1.69.

In banking, Westpac was best of the big four and climbed 0.2 per cent to $25.21.

In mining, BHP, Fortescue and Rio Tinto all lost less than one per cent.

Oil and gas producer Strike Energy rose 9.86 per cent to 39 cents after it said progress continued on its proposed fertiliser plant near Geraldton, Western Australia.

A consultant will revise the capital cost estimate of $US1.74 billion.

Strike aims to provide fertiliser to agricultural industries.

Next week, employment figures for March will be issued on Thursday. March was the last month of the JobKeeper wage subsidy, so there will be no effect in the figures from its expiry.

The unemployment rate dropped to 5.8 per cent for February.

Also on Thursday, the Bank of Queensland will give its first-half earnings.

The Australian dollar was buying 76.00 US cents at 1716 AEST, lower from 76.35 US cents at Thursday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 3.6 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 6995.2 on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries closed higher by two points, or 0.03 per cent, to 7252.3 points.

* At 1716 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was up by one point, or 0.01 per cent, to 6975 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 76.00 US cents, from 76.35 cents on Wednesday

* 83.21 Japanese yen, from 83.73 yen

* 63.89 Euro cents, from 64.32 cents

* 55.54 British pence, from 55.50 pence

* 108.31 NZ cents, from 108.60 cents.