INVESTORS pushed the market higher in the last hour of trading yesterday, capping off a strong week on the local bourse.
After trading flat for most of the day, the late surge saw the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index close up 59.4 points, or 1.4 per cent, at 4,288, while the All Ordinaries rose 58.2 points, or 1.36 per cent, to 4,346.3.
CMC Markets strategist Michael McCarthy said the rally reflected investors that were "underweight" in stocks and short traders covering positions.
The "small ordinaries", a sub-indices of stocks outside the top 300, outperformed the bigger caps, rising by 1.7 per cent, which Mr McCarthy said was a positive sign that confidence was better over the week. "It does suggest people are prepared to take on more risk. Obviously the smaller stocks are less liquid and harder to get out of in a problem situation, but in a good market they'll tend to outperform."
Woolworths rose 60?, or 2.4 per cent, to $25.47 yesterday, while Wesfarmers was up 67 ? at $32.41.
Hospitals operator Ramsay Health Care was one of the best performers, rising 63?, or 3.38 per cent, to $19.29. It followed a report suggesting Ramsay was considering expanding its European operating by bidding for a French hospital.
Foster's shares fell 1? to $5.38 in it's final day as a listed company. It has been taken over by Anglo-South African brewer SABMiller.
In the mining sector, Rio Tinto rose 40? to $66.32 after announcing it would invest an additional $US2.7 billion modernising its aluminium smelter in British Columbia, Canada. BHP Billiton recovered from early losses to close up 30? at $36.65.
The banks led the surge at the day's end, defying a ratings downgrade by Standard & Poor's. The best performer was Westpac, up 44? at $21.57.