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Improved global sentiment following a round of upbeat economic data helped Aussie shares rally for the first time in three sessions. Strength in health and resource stocks helped boost the ASX 200 by 36 points or 0.6 per cent to 6218 at the start of a new week.

Strong US jobs figures and subdued wages growth helped settle investor nerves in the US on Friday night, positioning our market for a positive session after two days of solid falls. The health sector led the recovery, rising 1.6 per cent as CSL put on 1.8 per cent and Cochlear 1.5 per cent.

Healius – formerly known as Primary Health Care – rallied nine cents or 2.1 per cent to a six-month high. Energy stocks bounced 1.5 per cent after crude oil sealed a fifth straight weekly advance in the US.

West Texas intermediate crude ended the week at $US63.08 barrel for a weekly gain of 4.9 per cent and a year-to-date rally of 39 per cent. That helped Santos gain 2.3 per cent this morning, Origin Energy 1.6 per cent and Woodside 1.5 per cent.

Oil futures continued to improve this morning, lately up 38 cents or 0.6 per cent at $US63.46 a barrel. Resolute Mining was the best performer on the ASX 200 after announcing a 33 per cent increase in production during the March quarter.

Shares in the gold miner jumped 7.7 per cent to a seven-month peak. At the other end of the market, Domain Holdings’ golden run of seven straight advances looked set to end following a 5.7 per cent reversal this morning.

The big banks were the biggest drag on the index amid speculation they will find it harder to make money in a low-growth, low-interest rate environment. CBA dipped 0.2 per cent, ANZ 0.6 per cent, NAB 1 per cent and Westpac 0.6 per cent. Investors showed little enthusiasm for AMP’s latest attempt to revitalise its boardroom, sending the shares down 0.9 per cent as Debra Hazelton replaced Trevor Matthews.

US stocks closed higher on Friday after the March jobs report beat expectations and wage growth came in weak in a sign that inflationary pressures remain well contained. The S&P 500 edged up 0.46 per cent.

Most Asian markets began the week on the front foot following weekend reports on Chinese TV of progress in trade negotiations with the US. China’s Shanghai Composite rose 0.6 per cent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 0.4 percent. Japan’s Nikkei ticked down 0.1 per cent. S&P 500 futures in the US were recently flat.

Gold regained the $US1,300 an ounce level this morning, lately up $4.40 or 0.3 per cent to $US1,300 an ounce in US futures trade. On currency markets, the dollar was buying 70.97 US cents.

Looking to the week ahead, a slow start so far as scheduled data is concerned, with the big-ticket items overseas not due until later in the week. A new quarterly company earnings season will get underway in the US, putting corporate profits back in the spotlight.

There is not a lot of interest on the domestic calendar until Wednesday’s consumer sentiment report, but there are monthly home loan figures due tomorrow.


ASX by the numbers
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