Bourse shakes off torpor to end on high note

A strong rally from CSL and record highs from Commonwealth Bank helped steer the sharemarket to a 2-month high.

A strong rally from CSL and record highs from Commonwealth Bank helped steer the sharemarket to a 2-month high.

After a sluggish start the market gathered steam, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index finishing up 49 points, or 1 per cent, at 5157.7 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 47.8 points, or 0.9 per cent, at 5141.6.

CBA and blood products maker CSL did much of the heavy lifting amid expectations that the two companies would deliver strong earnings reports on Wednesday.

CBA advanced 1 per cent to $74.55 while CSL clawed back losses from past days to add 4 per cent to $67.80.

"CSL has been sold off in the past few sessions and bounced back," said Tony Paterno, senior investment adviser at Ord Minnett. "It's back to where it was a week ago, but it is having a big run."

It is widely expected that CSL's net profit will be about 20 per cent ahead, while analysts are tipping CBA to unveil a final dividend of just below $2 a share, and some are predicting a one-off return of capital via a special dividend.

The other banks also scored gains, with Westpac firming 0.3 per cent to $31.18, NAB strengthening 1.2 per cent to $31.06, while ANZ was up 1.1 per cent at $29.87.

The big miners also had a good day, supported by Chinese steel futures and gold prices continuing to trade near three-week highs.

BHP Billiton rose 0.4 per cent to $36.96, Rio Tinto advanced 0.8 per cent to $62.62 while gold miner Regis rallied 3.4 per cent to $3.64.

Gold eased 0.1 per cent to $US1336.88, but was still trading near its three-week high, following increased Chinese gold consumption and an inflow to SPDR Gold Trust, the world's biggest gold ETF. China's gold consumption surged in the first six months of the year as the metal slumped 20 per cent, luring buyers.

"It's only a bit of a bounce," Mr Paterno said. "If it runs beyond $US1400, it's a big positive."

Macquarie division director Martin Lakos was downbeat about gold's short-term outlook, saying when the US Fed begins tapering its $85 million a month the metal will come under pressure. "If there is a perception that US bond rates are going to rise modestly, that's going to add support for the US dollar," Mr Lakos said. "That's not positive for gold."

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