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The share market had a three-month closing high in its sights as gains in the health and industrial sectors outweighed falling resource stocks.

The ASX 200 rallied 39 points or 0.6 per cent to 6763 by mid-session. The benchmark index needs to finish above 6750 this afternoon to claim its highest close since early August. Today’s rally represented the fifth time the index has butted up against this level since a record close in July.

All-time highs for health giant CSL and retail and industrial conglomerate Wesfarmers provided much of the morning’s momentum. CSL, one of this year’s greatest blue-chip success stories, gapped up 2.4 per cent. Stock that started 2019 trading at $185 this morning reached $269. Wesfarmers was also enjoying a stellar year, rising 0.9 per cent to $41.17 after opening on January 2 at $31.95. Qantas advanced 1.9 per cent to a 14-month high.

Tech stocks surfed Friday’s record close on the Nasdaq. Afterpay rose 4.6 per cent, Appen 4.5 per cent and Altium 1.7 per cent.

The financial sector traded just above break-even as ANZ traded without its dividend, offsetting gains in the other three major high-street banks. ANZ fell 2.6 per cent. CBA gained 1.2 per cent, NAB 1.5 per cent and Westpac 1.1 per cent.

Iron ore miners fell after the price of ore slipped to nine-month lows. Prices have deteriorated as Brazilian supply returned towards normal levels following the Vale dam tailings disasters. BHP gave up 0.7 per cent, Rio Tinto 2 per cent, Fortescue 3.6 per cent and Mount Gibson Iron 1.2 per cent.

Agribusiness Elders rose 7.1 per cent after shrugging off drought conditions to report a net full-year profit after tax of $68.9 million. The company has diversified to shield shareholders from cyclical downturns in agriculture.

Infant formula maker Bubs Australia advanced 4.7 per cent on news the company had secured shelf space in Vietnam’s largest baby retail chain. Beauty product specialist McPherson’s rallied 8.8 per cent after announcing a joint venture to expand its Dr LeWinn’s range into China.

What’s hot today and what’s not:

Hot today: Imugene surged to a 17-month high after its developmental anti-cancer treatment made headlines over the weekend. Newspaper reports hailed the junior biotech’s CF33 virus as a potential cure for cancer after it allegedly proved effective in killing viruses in petri dishes. Imugene has licensed the treatment developed by US cancer specialist Yuman Fong, and intends to trial it on breast cancer patients next year. The share price was last up 38.5 per cent.

Not today: Elixir Energy slumped to a one-month low as traders appeared to lose patience with the pace of drilling at its Mongolian prospect. The gas explorer announced this morning that the first of two low-cost chip-holes had intersected coal, but progress on a second hole had been slowed by wintry conditions and repair-work. The first of two proposed core-holes was due to spud later today. The share price sank from 4.7 cents to 3.9 before trimming the loss to 4.1 cents or 12.8 per cent.

Asian markets turned lower. China’s Shanghai Composite fell 1 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 1.5 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei 0.1 per cent. S&P 500 index futures were recently down seven points or 0.2 per cent.

Turning to commodity markets, Brent crude futures reversed 41 cents or 0.7 per cent this morning to $US62.12 a barrel. Gold futures ticked up $1.40 or 0.1 per cent to $US1,464.30 an ounce.

On currency markets, the dollar eased a tenth of a cent to 68.54 US cents.

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