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Back in black as stocks climb on late rally

THE sharemarket staged a late rally yesterday to close firmly in the black after a similar surge on Wall Street and higher commodities prices overnight boosted resource and financial stocks.

THE sharemarket staged a late rally yesterday to close firmly in the black after a similar surge on Wall Street and higher commodities prices overnight boosted resource and financial stocks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index closed up 54.3 points, or 1.4 per cent, at 3926.4.

CommSec chief equities economist Craig James said the Australian market jumped at the open, as expected, after a spectacular late rally on Wall Street overnight on news European Union finance ministers were looking at ways to aid weak banks. Local gains were pared back about noon but surged in the last moments of trade.

"But there's still a fair amount of caution," Mr James said. "What we're seeing right across the globe, wherever there are profits to be made, those profits are quickly taken."

There were good gains across most sectors, although consumer staples and property trusts lost ground, Mr James said.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed retail spending rose 0.6 per cent in August following a 0.6 per cent rise in July, but retail stocks were mixed as investors switched from the relatively safer consumer staples stocks to discretionary retailers.

Woolworths was down 23? at $24.18 while rival Wesfarmers, the owner of Coles, was 3? softer at $30.01.

David Jones and Myer were up 4? at $2.88 and 5? at $2.07, respectively.

Mr James said there were encouraging bounces in mining and energy stocks recently sold heavily due to a rebound in commodity prices, including gold and oil.

The spot price of gold was $US1623.75, down $US47.05 from Tuesday's local close.

Oil and gas major Woodside put on $1.29, or 4.1 per cent, to $32.80 while Santos appreciated 48?, or 4.4 per cent, to $11.36. Of the miners, BHP Billiton was up $1.27, or 3.8 per cent, at $35.13, Rio Tinto advanced $1.30, or 2.2 per cent, to $60.30 and Fortescue gained 19?, or 4.7 per cent, to $4.25.

The banks, other than Commonwealth, performed strongly. Westpac was up 47?, or 2.4 per cent, at $19.81, National Australia Bank gained 32?, or 1.5 per cent, to $21.78 and ANZ put on 19?, or 1 per cent, to $19.17. Commonwealth Bank was steady at $43.51.

Transfield Services was the best-performing stock on the S&P/ASX 100 after the company announced an on-market share buyback. Transfield closed up 16?, or 8.8 per cent, at $1.97.

Cashed-up thermal coalminer New Hope Corporation rose after inviting formal takeover bids following several preliminary offers. Its shares jumped 81?, or 15.3 per cent, to $6.10.


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