BHP Billiton helps drive market gains

The sharemarket touched a 5-year high as the world's biggest miner, BHP Billiton, drove market gains.

The sharemarket touched a 5-year high as the world's biggest miner, BHP Billiton, drove market gains.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 21.3 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 5373, while the broader All Ordinaries added 19.7 points, or 0.37 per cent, to 5371.2.

Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said BHP's upgraded full-year forecast and record quarterly production had lifted sentiment.

"BHP is the bright spot on the market today," Ms Lee said. "We've seen gains across most of the sectors, with the only real exceptions being energy and consumer discretionary as well as the telcos."

Ms Lee said iron ore miners Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals and Atlas Iron had also lifted the local bourse after recently posting strong production results.

The S&P/ASX 200 hit a 5-year high of 5380 in afternoon trade.

BHP Billiton gained 85¢, or 2.4 per cent, to $37.05, after upgrading its iron ore production guidance and beating forecasts during the September quarter.

Rio Tinto was 22¢ higher at $63.97, while Fortescue Metals fell 4¢ to $5.41. Atlas Iron was 6¢ higher at $1.05 but goldminer Newcrest shed 5¢ to $10.71.

Department store chain David Jones lost 6¢ to $2.79 after chief executive Paul Zahra announced he would quit for personal reasons.

All the major banks were higher, with Westpac up 3¢ to $34.11, ANZ adding 11¢ to $32.23, National Australia Bank 10¢ higher at $36.07 and Commonwealth Bank gaining 21¢ to $74.76.

Property group Mirvac rose 3¢ to $1.79 after indicating it was on track to reach its full-year earnings target.

Shares in APN News and Media rose 3.5¢ to 45¢ after announcing it would move to sell its remaining stake in its outdoor advertising business to a private equity group.

The gold price was $US1317.50 an ounce, down $US4.07.

The dollar dipped slightly to US96.55¢, from US96.73¢.

On the credit market, bond futures prices have eased now that the US political dramas have died down.

"It's really just a reflection of the fact that we've now cleared a lot of the global market hurdles," CMC Markets strategist Michael McCarthy said.

"Unfortunately for bonds, that means at some stage a cessation of stimulus and the return of growth and inflation and bond markets are now starting to move back towards that pricing." He expected lower bond prices to continue.

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