ASX punches through all-time records

The ASX continues its stellar run, with both key indices setting new records, but data due from the US overnight could dictate its direction.

The Australian sharemarket rallied to an all-time high on Thursday, with all sectors in the green excluding resources.

The S&P/ASX200 closed 0.44 per cent higher at 7302.5 while the All Ordinaries Index gained 0.49 per cent to 7558.8.

That compares to Friday’s record highs of 7295.4 and 7543, respectively.

CommSec analyst James Tao said the surge came despite an uninspiring lead from Wall St, where all the major indices finished in negative territory.

A top performer on the local bourse was financial services industry software provider IRESS, which denied it had received a direct takeover approach amid speculation.

“Rumours started circulating that newly established investment house Barrenjoey Capital was searching for a large amount of stock for a potential buyer,” OMG chief executive Ivan Tchourilov said.

“This is yet another Australian tech business being circled by potential buyers, which is becoming commonplace within the Aussie tech landscape of late.”

Shares in IRESS soared 16.8 per cent to $12.79.

Another strong performer was Whitehaven Coal after Bell Potter upgraded its forecasts for thermal and metallurgical coal prices, maintaining its “buy” recommendation for the stock and lifting its 12-month target price to $2.40 from $2.25 previously.

Whitehaven shares advanced 5.18 per cent to $2.03.

Mr Tchourilov pointed to sleep apnoea equipment manufacturer Resmed as another star performer, putting on 3.72 per cent to $28.13.

Mortgage Choice shareholders voted in favour of a $1.95 cash per share takeover by REA Group, which is majority owned by the publisher of this title, News Corp, and owns

The mortgage broker’s shares inched 0.26 per cent higher to $1.94 while REA Group shares gained 1.62 per cent to $167.70.

Boral has advised its shareholders to reject a $6.50 cash per share takeover offer from Kerry Stokes-run Seven Group Holdings, which already holds a 23 per cent stake in the building products maker, saying the bid materially undervalued the company.

“The SGH offer is opportunistic and appears to be timed to take advantage of an improving outlook for Boral,” the target’s statement released on Thursday read.

“SGH is attempting to increase its influence over Boral without paying fair value for it.

“The SGH offer is at a nil premium to the Boral share price immediately before the SGH offer.”

Credit Suisse has a 12-month target price of $6.40 for Boral but the takeover target’s independent expert Grant Samuel & Associates has estimated fair market value of $8.25 to $9.13.

Boral shares finished 0.73 per cent weaker at $6.83 while Seven Group shares improved 0.52 per cent to $21.17.

Supermarket giant Woolworths was given the green light to proceed with the $552m acquisition of 65 per cent of family-owned food distributor PFD Food Services after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission overcame initial concerns about the impact of the deal following a detailed investigation.

Woolworths shares rose 0.77 per cent to $42.96.

Competitor Coles dipped 0.42 per cent to $16.69.

Mr Tao said the resources sector underperformed overall, even though some metals prices lifted considerably, including iron ore, up about 1.5 per cent.

BHP backtracked 0.76 per cent to $48.30 and OZ Minerals slipped 0.28 per cent to $25.22 but Rio Tinto added 0.1 per cent to $124.92 and Fortescue improved 0.8 per cent to $22.83.

Oil Search slid 3.33 per cent to $4.07, Woodside Petroleum retreated 1.47 per cent to $23.41 and Beach Petroleum declined 1.47 per cent to $1.34.

ANZ inched 0.14 per cent lower to $28.69, Commonwealth Bank rose 0.76 per cent to $101.85, National Australia Bank firmed 0.23 per cent to $26.62 and Westpac appreciated 0.15 per cent to $26.59.

Mr Tchourilov said US inflation data due for release overnight would likely dictate market direction into the early stages of next week at least.

“So traders and investment managers will be watching this very closely,” he said.

The Aussie dollar was fetching 77.42 US cents, 54.88 British pence and 63.57 Euro cents in afternoon trade.


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