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Chinese gain, rate cut hopes lift stocks

4 Dec 2012 THE AGE
BY KIM CHRISTIAN


THE Australian sharemarket finished at a near six-week high, buoyed by encouraging Chinese manufacturing and expectations of a Reserve Bank of Australia interest rate cut on Tuesday.

At the close on Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 25.5 points, or 0.57 per cent, higher at 4531.5, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 22 points, or 0.49 per cent, at 4540.0.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 28 points higher at 4544, with 24,541 contracts traded.

CommSec analyst Juliette Saly said investors shrugged off weak Australian retail figures and instead bought into local stocks after the release of encouraging data on the weekend that showed the biggest gain in 13 months for Chinese manufacturing activity. "Our market's taken that lead and we've seen some good buying coming through today," Ms Saly said.

Figures released by the Bureau of Statistics showed retail spending was steady in October, below expectations of a 0.4 per cent rise.

The weaker retail figure added to expectations the RBA would cut the cash rate by 0.25 percentage points to 3.00 per cent when its board meets on Tuesday for the last time until February 2013.

"Retail trade figures were disappointing but we've seen the market bounce back from the initial shock," Ms Saly said. "News that we're expecting a rate cut tomorrow will help sentiment."

Among the major retailers, JB Hi-Fi gained 33? to $10.26, Wesfarmers was 40? higher at $35.95 and Woolworths rose 15? to $29.43.

Department store operator David Jones fell 5? to $2.44 and Myer shares fell 4? to $2.13.

Among the big miners, BHP Billiton was up 15? to $34.54, Rio Tinto fell 21? to $58.54 and Fortescue dipped 15? to $3.76.

Among the banks, ANZ jumped 33? to $24.69, Commonwealth Bank surged $1.12 to $60.81, while National Australia Bank was 1? lower at $24.29 and Westpac was 6? higher at $25.56.

Television broadcaster Ten Network shares fell 3? to 33.5?.

National turnover was 1.49 billion securities worth $3.82 billion, with 475 stocks up, 473 down and 351 unchanged. The price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1719.50 per fine ounce, down $US11.35 from $US1730.85 on Friday. AAP

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