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Local markets follow US lead to hit new highs

Australian stocks set a record high in morning trading led by resources, banks and property.

In the resources space, gold, iron ore, and lithium names rose strongly with the S&P/ASX 200 rallying 0.88 per cent to 7886 points and setting new highs for the index.

In economic news, Retail Sales rose 0.3 per cent in February a little softer than consensus estimates of 0.4 per cent.

The SPI futures are pointing to a rise of 56 points.

Gold miners led the charge as the gold price approached new highs during the morning, with Newmont trading 3 per cent higher, and Northern Star and Evolution both up over 2 per cent. In the iron ore space BHP, RIO and FMG were all trading up over 1 per cent as midday approached.

In the property space, falling bond yields and some M&A activity worked to push the sector strongly into the green during the morning session. Charter Hall Group and Charter Hall Retail fund announced they have taken a 14.8 per cent stake in Hotel Property Investments for $97 million, making them the largest holder on the register.

Best and worst performers

The best-performing sector is REITs, up 2.01 per cent. The worst-performing sector is Information Technology, down 0.22 per cent.

The best-performing large cap is Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC), trading 5.12 per cent higher at $7.09. It is followed by shares in Newmont Corporation (ASX:NEM) and Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN).

The worst-performing large cap is Meridian Energy (ASX:MEZ), trading 4.61 per cent lower at $5.38. It is followed by shares in GQG Partners (ASX:GQG) and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation (ASX:FPH).

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$2208.40 an ounce.
Iron ore is 2.8 per cent lower at US$101.30 a tonne.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a 0.2 per cent fall.
One Australian dollar is buying 65.25 US cents.