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Banks and resources make up lost ground

THE local sharemarket closed firmer yesterday, despite the debt impasse in the US, and made up some of the lost ground from Monday's sell-off.

THE local sharemarket closed firmer yesterday, despite the debt impasse in the US, and made up some of the lost ground from Monday's sell-off.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index rose 42.9 points, or 0.95 per cent, to 4573.3, while the All Ordinaries rose 42.5 points, or 0.92 per cent, to 4646.3. The September share price index futures contract finished 29 points higher at 4542.

A CMC Markets strategist, Michael McCarthy, said the market bounced back after concerns about the debt-ceiling stalemate in the US caused a widespread sell-off on Monday.

The US President, Barack Obama, said the nation was dangerously close to default, but appeared no closer to reaching a compromise with Republicans in Congress.

The US will be unable to borrow money and pay its bills after August 2, if a deal is not reached to extend the debt limit.

"There was a sell-off around [Republican House Speaker] John Boehner's response to the speech from Obama as markets [looked] for a solution," Mr McCarthy said.

"We didn't get that, but then I think it dawned on us that we'd made an over-adjustment [on Monday]."

Banks and financial stocks had a strong day, with the Commonwealth Bank the biggest gainer, up 68? to $50.22.

National Australia Bank rose 19? to $24.82, ANZ rose 24? to $21.55, and Westpac rose 10? to $21.36.

The big miners closed in good shape, with BHP Billiton up 46? at $43.52, despite the Federal Court ruling that a non-union collective agreement covering workers in its Pilbara operations was invalid. Rio Tinto rose 93? to $82.99.

In the energy sector, Oil Search rose 18? to $6.91 after it announced second-quarter operating revenues jumped 42 per cent.

Woodside Petroleum rose 63? to $39.48, and Origin Energy rose 26? to $15.22. The spot price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1614 an ounce, down $US3.57. Newcrest Mining fell 17? to $40.18.

The big retailers closed weaker. Wesfarmers fell 20? to $30.22 and Woolworths 2? to $27.40.

Telstra fell 1? to $3.03.

National turnover was 2.12 billion shares worth $5.01 billion.


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