Finance, ASX: Miners push share market to fresh record

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Australian shares advanced to an all-time high on Thursday — the final day of the shortened trading week — as resources stocks rallied on a rebound in commodity prices.

Benchmark index the S&P/ASX200 clocked a fresh intraday high of 7901.2, before setting at a record close of 7896.9 — up one per cent, beating its previous record close of 7847 recorded earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the broader All Ordinaries climbed by a similar amount to 8153.7.

Against the greenback, the Australian dollar sank to US65.29c.

After another strong month, AMP chief economist Shane Oliver said it had been a very strong start to the year for equity markets.

“With valuations stretched and investor sentiment high, the risk of a share market correction remains high,” Dr Oliver said.

“But the economic news consistent with a Goldilocks scenario of continuing but cooler growth and falling inflation, with central banks remaining on track for rate cuts this year, is continuing to drive a rising trend in share markets which may keep any corrections mild.”

All 11 industry sectors finished in the green, with materials the strongest performer, up 1.8 per cent, as iron ore and lithium miners shone.

ASX heavyweight BHP rose 1.4 per cent to $44.27, Mineral Resources added 3.8 per cent to $70.87 and Pilbara Minerals climbed 2.1 per cent to $3.83.

Elsewhere in commodities, gold stocks rallied as the spot price for the precious metal hovered near $US2220 an ounce.

Northern Star Resources added 1.7 per cent to $14.47, Newmont rallied 3.3 per cent to $53.71 and Ramelius Resources climbed 3.1 per cent to $1.86.

Real estate and telecommunications stocks also supported the benchmark, rising 1.7 per cent and 1.5 per cent, respectively.

Despite a boost from Taylor Swift concerts in Melbourne and Sydney, fresh retail sales data showed spending climbed 0.3 per cent in February — below economists’ expectations.

In company news, Ramsay Health Care added 0.4 per cent to $56.51 even as analysts at broker Citi warned that hospital tariffs would increase by 0.3 per cent in the private sector, well short of its two to three per cent increase.

After announcing it would shed 30 per cent of its headcount to reduce operational costs, Beach Energy jumped 3.7 per cent to $1.84.

Shares in Fisher & Paykel Healthcare slipped 2.8 per cent to $23.66 after the medical equipment supplier initiated a recall for a humidifier product manufactured before 2017.