All sectors – bar REITs, consumer staples and financials – finished higher, led by a huge 2.9 per cent rally in communications as Telstra shares soared 4 per cent to $3.86 following broker upgrades from Credit Suisse and Macquarie. The telco recorded the second-largest percentage gain on the benchmark, closing at a three-month high.
Elsewhere, healthcare, information technology and energy also enjoyed a strong session, rallying 0.8 per cent, 0.6 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.
Healthcare gains were aided in part by a weaker Australian dollar, which helped push CSL and Cochlear to close at record highs. The former rose 1.1 per cent to $282.99, while the latter added 1.2 per cent to $233.73.
Industrials added 0.3 per cent, materials 0.2 per cent while utilities rose 0.1 per cent. The consumer discretionary sector closed flat.
BHP and Rio Tinto added support to the broader materials sector, lifting 0.4 per cent apiece to finish at $38.50 and $97.39 respectively.
Preventing a larger gain for the benchmark, financials, the largest sector by market weighting, slipped 0.3 per cent, weighed down by declines in three of Australia’s big four banks. ANZ led the falls, sliding 0.8 per cent to $24.87.
After posting modest gains in early trade, Bank of Queensland shares had a dramatic end to the session, spiking over 2 per cent to close up 3 per cent at $7.98. BoQ shares had been under pressure earlier this week following an institutional raising.
REITs fell 0.2 per cent while consumer staples eased by less than 0.1 per cent.
Surpassing Telstra for top spot on the benchmark on Thursday, construction and engineering firm Service Stream jumped 5 per cent to $2.50. Nufarm rounded out the top three ASX 200 gainers, rising 3.3 per cent to $5.00.
At the other end of the scoreboard, GUD Holdings slumped 5 per cent to $11.11 after a downgrade by brokerage Wilsons. Shares in the auto supply firm had surged close to 40 per cent over the past three months prior to Thursday’s steep fall.
David Scutt covers markets for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age