The local bourse has finished higher after a lacklustre report on the health of the Australian economy seemed to shut the door on the chances of a surprise rate hike from the Reserve Bank.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Wednesday finished up 31.9 points, or 0.41 per cent, at 7,769.0, clawing back all of Tuesday’s losses and then some, while the broader All Ordinaries gained 28.1 points, or 0.35 per cent, at 8,022.2.

The market was already up but climbed further after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that Australia’s gross domestic product grew just 0.1 per cent in the first quarter, its fifth consecutive quarterly drop in per capita terms.

“GDP growth was weak in March, with the economy experiencing its lowest through the year growth since December 2020,” said Katherine Keenan, bureau’s head of national accounts.

The result was slightly weaker than both consensus expectations and the Reserve Bank’s average quarterly forecast for the half year. 

NAB chief economist Alan Oster said the continued pattern of subdued growth would give the RBA comfort that inflationary pressures would continue to ease, despite recent upside surprises from the consumer price index.

Futures markets have now priced out the possibility of a further hike to the RBA’s 4.35 per cent cash rate, and now imply 50-50 odds for a cut in December, according to Commonwealth Bank analyst Ryan Felsman.

Eight of the ASX’s 11 sectors finished higher on Wednesday, with energy, materials and tech closing lower.

Telecommunications was the biggest gainer, rising 2.0 per cent. Carsales owner CAR Group climbed 3.4 per cent to $35.71, while Seek rose 4.9 per cent to a one-month high of $23.78 after the job-search platform said it would sell it Latin American operations for $US85 million ($128 million) to reduce its debt. 

Mining companies were down across the board amid a drop in commodity prices including copper, which fell below $US10,000 a metric ton on a buildup of inventories.

BHP slipped 0.9 per cent to $43.90, Fortescue dipped 0.8 per cent to $24.14 and Rio Tinto subtracted 1.5 per cent to $125.60.

Goldminers and lithium producers were also lower, as were coalminers and uranium companies in the energy sector.

Newmont dropped 2.5 per cent, Pilbara slid 1.1 per cent, Whitehaven Coal dropped 3.7 per cent and Deep Yellow subtracted 4.9 per cent.

Also, Sandfire Resources dropped 5.6 per cent to $8.86 after a report from law firm Gilbert + Tobin faulted the copper miner for inadequate processes that led to the 2016 disturbance of Aboriginal artefacts near its DeGrussa mine in WA, but said there was no evidence of malice or cultural bias.

All of the Big Four banks were higher, with CBA rising 0.8 per cent to $123.47, ANZ and NAB both adding 0.7 per cent, to $28.78 and $34.80, respectively, and Westpac edging 0.1 per cent higher at $26.76.

In health care, Cyclopharm soared 21.1 per cent to a three-week high of $1.695 after the radiopharmaceutical company said its Technegas lung imaging agent had received its own reimbursement code from the US Medicare system, providing a more streamlined reimbursement process for clinical sites using the diagnostic tool.

Cryptocurrencies were also climbing, with Bitcoin up 3.1 per cent to a two-week high of $US70,910, or $A106,000 on Australian exchanges.

The Australian dollar was buying 66.57 US cents, from 66.66 US cents at Tuesday’s ASX close.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index on Wednesday gained 31.9 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 7,769.0

* The broader All Ordinaries rose 28.1 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 8,022.2.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 66.57 US cents, from 66.66 US cents at Tuesday’s ASX close

* 103.63 Japanese yen, from 104.29 Japanese yen

* 61.19 Euro cents, from 61.23 euro cents

* 52.13 British pence, from 52.14 pence

* 107.71 NZ cents, from 107.86 NZ cents