ASX's best week in four, no shift in rates

·4-min read

Australian shares had their best week in the past four as investors proved comfortable with central banks' slight changes to pandemic stimulus.

The ASX traded higher throughout Friday while the Reserve Bank doubled down on its 2024 rate hike forecast in its monetary policy statement.

US markets provided a good lead and remained upbeat after the US Federal Reserve said it would begin easing bond purchases.

There was no "taper tantrum" of years gone by and Pepperstone chief market strategist Chris Weston was impressed.

"Equity markets have rallied despite this aggressive repricing with higher interest rates. I've been surprised," he said.

"You could easily have said let's move out of stocks and risk assets. But that's not been the case."

Mr Weston said rate hikes being priced in reflected a better economy.

Some people were acting on the premise of a global economy no longer weighed by coronavirus impacts.

"For growth-focused investors, that has been the green light to buy stocks," Mr Weston said.

Investors will have a better idea of global economic progress after Friday night. US jobs figures are due and improvement is expected.

Meanwhile, one of the biggest contributors to inflation, oil supply, remains a prickly topic for world leaders.

OPEC+ producers overnight rebuffed US President Joe Biden's call for extra output to cool rising prices.

In Australia, annual general meeting season continues next week, including with Fortescue, Coles and BHP.

In the most recent trading day, telecommunications and consumer staples were best.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed higher by 28.9 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 7456.9.

The All Ordinaries closed up 30.9 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 7777.2.

For the week, shares rose 1.82 per cent.

Financial markets technology provider Link did much better in a single day.

Shares surged after a takeover offer from investment fund Carlyle Asia Partners.

The suitors offered $5.38 per share. The Link board said it would consider the offer and suspended its on-market share buyback.

Shares were up more than eight per cent to $4.70.

Investors were impressed by real estate advertising provider REA Group's first quarter.

Sales and earnings were each up more than 20 per cent, despite coronavirus lockdowns in some states.

Home listings across Australia in October climbed 16 per cent on the same month last year. However, the company warned of regulator measures to slow house price inflation.

Shares were up about 5.5 per cent to $176.81.

Qantas chief Alan Joyce was worried varying travel rules in some states could hurt demand.

Western Australia will wait until as late as early-February to reopen its border. South Australia is yet to reopen to all Australians.

Shares were 0.71 per cent to $5.62.

Sigma Healthcare withdrew its offer for Priceline Pharmacy-owned Australian Pharmaceutical Industries.

Rival suitor Wesfarmers last month bought a 19.3 per cent stake in API, which strengthened its offer of $1.55 per share.

Sigma shares were up 1.83 per cent to 55 cents.

API shares were down 1.66 per cent to $1.48.

BlueScope Steel bought the main supplier of scrap feed to its US mini-mill, North Star.

The company will pay $US240 million for two MetalX sites, which provide about 20 per cent of scrap used by North Star.

Shares were down 0.24 per cent to $20.42.

The biggest miners, BHP, Fortescue and Rio Tinto, each gained less than one per cent.

In banking, Westpac traded ex-dividend and dropped 2.8 per cent. The Commonwealth was best of the big four and rose by more than one per cent.

The Australian dollar was buying 73.85 US cents at 1724 AEDT, lower from 74.42 cents at Thursday's close.

ON THE ASX

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed higher by 28.9 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 7456.9 on Friday.

* The All Ordinaries closed up 30.9 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 7777.2.

* At 1724 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up four points, or 0.05 per cent, at 7441 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT

One Australian dollar buys:

* 73.85 US cents, from 74.42 cents on Thursday

* 83.94 Japanese yen, from 84.86 yen

* 63.92 Euro cents, from 64.15 cents

* 54.73 British pence, from 54.42 pence

* 104.20 NZ cents, from 104.10 cents.

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