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Australian stocks squeeze out record high as month-end buyers swoop in

Published 02/29/2024, 01:32 PM
© Reuters.

Investing.com-- Australia’s ASX 200 index reversed early losses to hit a record high on Thursday, buoyed chiefly by month-end positioning in index heavyweight stocks after losses earlier in February.

The ASX 200 rose 0.6% to a record high of 7,703.80 points, trading slightly below that level at the end of trade for the day. Thursday’s gains saw the ASX recoup all losses through February and clock a mild, 0.3% gain for the month- its fourth straight month of gains.

The index appeared to be supported chiefly by buying into heavyweight bank and mining stocks, which had fallen through February amid concerns over slowing credit growth and losses in commodity prices.

“... buyers have stepped in today to take advantage of early weakness before pushing the market into positive territory. Today's buying is also likely month-end related,” Tony Sycamore, Market Analyst at IG said in a social media post, 

Commonwealth Bank Of Australia (ASX:CBA), the country’s largest lender, rose 0.5% on Thursday and marked a 0.9% loss in February. The bank clocked a weaker profit for the six months to December, and also warned of a credit slowdown amid persistent pressure from high interest rates.

BHP Group Ltd (ASX:BHP) and Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX:RIO), the two biggest listed miners in Australia, rose 0.3% and 0.9%, respectively on Thursday. The two fell more than 6% each through February on middling earnings, and as the prices of iron ore- their biggest product- tumbled on concerns over slowing global demand. 

Local investors were also encouraged by data showing a bigger-than-expected increase in private new capital expenditure through the fourth quarter, which bodes well for an upcoming reading on gross domestic product due next week.

Other readings showed consumer inflation and retail sales grew less than expected in January. But the data prints furthered the notion that the Reserve Bank of Australia will not hike interest rates any further.

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