Lost ground regained amid encouraging signs from US
The sharemarket recovered to close the week flat after suffering its biggest daily slump in six weeks on Wednesday.
Hopes were raised of a continuation of unprecedented global monetary stimulus that is keeping interest rates low and making equities more attractive.
In the past five trading sessions, the S&P/ASX 200 Index eked a 0.03 per cent gain to close the week at 5401.7 points. On Friday, the market closed 46.3 points higher.
Janet Yellen, who is expected to be the next chairman of the US Federal Reserve, said the central bank had "more work to do", which fuelled speculation that a reduction in the central bank's stimulus is unlikely soon and gave global equities a boost.
Lazard portfolio manager Phil Hofflin said the timing of the taper was "the most important macro-theme for the market because it concerns the rate at which interest rates and exchange rates will normalise from the extreme levels seen after the global financial crisis".
The dollar depreciated during the week to US93.38¢.
On the market, shares in debutant freelancer.com skyrocketed 220 per cent to $1.60 on their first day of trading.
With the strongest pipeline of initial public offerings coming to market since before the GFC, some managers are selling down portfolios to free up cash for new investments. Widely anticipated IPOs include the Nine Network and Dick Smith.
Information technology was the best-performing sector during the week, up 2.2 per cent, with Computershare rising 4.8 per cent to $11.15. Utilities was the worst-performing sector, down 1.1 per cent. AGL Energy lost 1.1 per cent to finish at $15.18.
The big-four banks all lost ground during the week as investors took profits amid recent record highs and dividend season for the sector.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia fell 1.6 per cent to $77.79. ANZ 1.3 per cent at $32.28, NAB 1.3 per cent to $34.30, and Westpac 0.5 per cent to $33.
Fortescue Metals climbed 6.8 per cent to $5.84 as investors endorsed its accelerated debt repayments.
BHP Billiton dipped 0.2 per cent to $37.89, while Rio Tinto added 0.4 per cent to $65.51 as the spot price for iron ore was solid at $US136.60 a tonne.
"We see the market overall as trading on the slightly expensive end of a broad fair-value range," Mr Hofflin said. "We are underweight in both the financials and materials sectors at the moment as more attractive opportunities are in other parts of the market.
"This year's AGM season has yielded varied news. It is clear that revenue growth is still hard to come by."
Chemicals and explosives manufacturer Orica did more than any other stock to buoy the bourse, rising 19.8 per cent to $23.41 after reporting a headline 49 per cent increase in annual net profit.
Building materials supplier James Hardie jumped 13.21 per cent to a record $12.17 after showing net profit more than doubled in the six months to September 30, bolstered by an improving US housing market.
Rival building materials supplier CSR also had a strong week, up 13.4 per cent at $2.79. BlueScope Steel added 12 per cent to $5.52.
Department store chain Myer Holdings jumped 13.2 per cent to $2.92 after its first-quarter sales results undershot expectations, but chief executive Bernie Brookes was upbeat about Christmas trading.
Australia's biggest insurer, QBE Insurance Group, added 3.8 per cent to $15.52.