Share market sees slight gain as Australian dollar shoots up

The share market has eked out a small gain after a choppy day of trade, with investors failing to pick up strong offshore leads.

The ASX 200 added 0.1 per cent to finish at 5,010 and the All Ordinaries matched that gain, finishing at 5,082.

Overnight, Wall Street jumped after US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen hosed down expectations of rate rises any time soon.

That saw the US dollar fall and the Australian dollar shoot up, hitting a high of 76.48 US cents overnight. It is currently trading at 76.4 US cents at 5:00pm AEST.

There are two schools of thought on whether it will remain elevated in the longer term.

Broker IG believes the RBA will remain on hold this year and negative rates will remain in Europe and Japan, and so the Australian dollar is likely to continue above the 70 US cent level through to December.

However Shane Oliver at AMP believes while a rise to 80 US cents is possible, lower commodity prices and a possible rate cut here will see it fall closer to 60 US cents by the year's end.

The fall in the US dollar overnight saw commodity prices jump around 2 per cent.

Gold miners dominated the top performers list on the ASX today.

Newcrest rallied almost 3 per cent and St Barbara shot up 8 per cent.

However the rally did not rub off on BHP or Rio, both falling around 0.5 per cent.

The gold price gave up some ground during today's session and is now at $US1237.70. Iron ore is at $US54.70.

A surprise announcement today that Virgin Australia may soon lose its biggest shareholder, Air New Zealand, sent Virgin's shares tumbling 9 per cent.

The Kiwi airline is considering dumping some or all of its $350 million holdings in Virgin to focus on its own growth opportunities.

Elsewhere Treasurer Scott Morrison announced some big changes to the way the ASX operates, including opening it up to foreign investment and more competition.

The measures were recommended by the Murray Inquiry and took no one by surprise so ASX shares rose 1.2 per cent.

Source: ABC News

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