Australian market goes own way to finish higher

The Australian sharemarket closed higher on Wednesday, led by stocks in the energy and consumer goods sector.

The Australian sharemarket closed higher on Wednesday, led by stocks in the energy and consumer goods sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index closed up 41.7 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 5275.9 points. The broader All Ordinaries Index was up 40.6 points, or 0.78 per cent, to 5270.1 points.

But there appeared to be no major driver behind the gains, with CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy saying some stocks had posted almost inexplicable rises.

One of those was department store David Jones, which rose 14¢, or 4.9 per cent, to $2.99 despite a 6 per cent fall in its annual net profit to $95.2 million.

Its underlying profit rose slightly to $101.6 million, but Mr McCarthy said the result looked poor and the outlook was gloomy.

"The only explanation I can put on it is that the market was expecting a lot worse in terms of their strategic initiatives and potential write-downs," he said.

Other retailers also rose, with Myer up 2¢ to $2.67 and JB Hi-Fi up 14¢ to $20.92.

Energy stocks rose despite several days of oil price falls, suggesting traders were speculating on a bounce in the oil price.

Oil Search added 29¢ to $8.79, Santos gained 23¢ to $15.33 and Woodside was 25¢ higher at $38.85.

BHP Billiton improved 13¢ to $36 and Rio Tinto gained 31¢ to $62.41.

"For most of the day, all sectors were in positive territory, but there's no detectable investment theme here," Mr McCarthy said. "The Australian market is marching to its own tune today."

Markets in Japan and China fell on Wednesday.

Telstra was steady at $4.93 as it announced 1100 jobs would be cut as part of a restructure of its operations business. National turnover was 1.38 billion securities worth $3.85 billion. AAP

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