A winning streak not seen in 15 months has the ASX200 in striking distance of record levels.

Australian shares on Wednesday closed higher for a seventh consecutive day after the federal budget and peace talks in Ukraine helped investor sentiment.

Technology shares continued their return to favour in March. They were best and rose three per cent.

Financial software provider Bravura was up seven per cent to $1.81.

VanEck head of investments Russel Chesler said a fall for technology stocks since November may have been overdone.

“We’ll see profitable technology companies bounce back further,” he said.

“At the same time, the gap between the performance of the profitable and unprofitable tech has widened.”

A similar recovery is playing out in US markets.

The revival of technology stocks there is particularly significant as these are the biggest players on Wall Street. The movement of these stocks often sway markets in other countries, such as Australia.

There were many other shares rallying in the latest trading day.

Mr Chesler noted the budget might have helped increases for retailers Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi, Kogan, Nick Scali, Wesfarmers and Woolworths.

The Morrison government pledged $250 cash handouts and a halving of the fuel excise for six months.

Elsewhere on the market, there were increases of one per cent for industrials, consumer discretionaries and healthcare.

The only categories to fall were energy and materials. Each lost less than one per cent.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 50.2 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 7514.5 on Wednesday.

The index was a little more than 100 points from its record of August.

The All Ordinaries index closed higher by 52.9 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 7799.9.

In company news, property group Charter Hall and a Dutch pension fund are going ahead with a $1.2 billion bid for all securities in Irongate Group.

The Irongate board has encouraged investors to accept the offer of $1.90 per security.

The Dutch pension fund PGGM has an 88 per cent stake in the partnership.

Charter Hall was up one per cent to $16.37.

Irongate was higher by one per cent to $1.92.

Telstra’s next boss Vicki Brady says the carrier can be a growth company again as it sets course for the post-Andrew Penn era.

The chief financial officer was named the incoming chief executive officer and will replace the retiring Penn in September.

Telstra was down less than one per cent at $3.90.

Casino operator Star Entertainment was lower after a securities class action was filed in the Supreme Court of Victoria.

Matt Bekier resigned this week as boss after revelations the company was lax in preventing criminal activity at its venues.

Star was down one per cent to $3.20.

Fortescue Metals’ renewables arm joined a European energy operator to provide green hydrogen to Europe.

Fortescue Future Industries and E.ON will provide up to five million tonnes of renewable hydrogen by 2030.

Fortescue was up one per cent to $19.80.

Iron ore rivals BHP and Rio Tinto were little changed.

The big banks were all higher. Westpac was best of the big four and gained almost one per cent to $24.51.

Car dealer group Eagers Automotive will buy Canberra-based business WFM Motors.

Eagers will pay $205 million for a group which sells vehicles from Ford, GMSV, Jeep, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo.

Eagers was up almost three per cent to $14.50.

The Australian dollar was buying 75.33 US cents at 1720 AEDT, higher from 74.83 US cents at Tuesday’s close.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 50.2 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 7514.5 on Wednesday.

* The All Ordinaries index closed higher by 52.9 points, or 0.68 per cent, to 7799.9.

* At 1720 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up five points, or 0.07 per cent, at 7489 points.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 75.33 US cents, from 74.93 cents on Tuesday

* 91.70 Japanese yen, from 92.54 yen

* 67.76 Euro cents, from 68.20 cents

* 57.40 British pence, from 57.23 pence

* 108.12 NZ cents, from 108.61 cents.


Steven Deare
(Australian Associated Press)