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Brighter signs from overseas underpin market

THE sharemarket closed higher yesterday, with investors displaying greater confidence the euro zone was on track to resolve its debt crisis.

THE sharemarket closed higher yesterday, with investors displaying greater confidence the euro zone was on track to resolve its debt crisis.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gained 40.2 points, or 0.96 per cent, to 4244.5, while the broader All Ordinaries rose 39.6 points, or 0.93 per cent, to 4306.

The market opened 1 per cent higher on a strong lead from Wall Street, better-than-expected US company results and news that Slovakia would today become the final euro zone country to vote in favour of an expanded European rescue fund.

The Ord Minnett equities consultant Ian Merrick said the Slovakian vote gave investors confidence that the euro zone would approve France and Germany's plan for resolving Europe's debt crisis.

On the sharemarket, Rio Tinto set a record for iron ore sales in the September quarter and its shares rose 2.79 per cent, or $1.88, to $69.34. BHP Billiton rose 1.51 per cent, or 56?, to $37.64.

"With Rio and what's happening in Europe now, that gives people a bit more confidence to go into [the market]," Mr Merrick said.

Funds continued to flow from typically defensive sectors such as consumer staples to high-growth areas, including energy stocks, which rose 1.07 per cent.

Shares in Linc Energy climbed 3? to $2.10 after the company said it had finalised the purchase of oil fields in the south of the US from ERG Resources.

Qantas rose 1? to $1.57 despite the airline announcing it was grounding more planes and cutting flights because of industrial action.

AMP rose 9? to $4.20 after the wealth manager said the former Qantas chief financial officer Colin Storrie had been appointed CFO.

The weakest stock among the top 100 companies was Caltex, which fell 2.8 per cent, or 37?, to $12.81.

The best performer was the mineral sands producer Iluka Resources, which gained 9.61 per cent, or $1.49, to $16.99, after it said it had increased September quarter production by almost 10 per cent.

Virgin Australia rose 1? to 32.5? after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it had approved the airline's partnership with Singapore Airlines.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1676.25 an ounce, up $US9.35 an ounce.


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