China drives stocks to five-year highs

Stocks this week rallied to levels not seen since 2008 after the US Congress approved a late deal to lift the US government borrowing limit and end a partial government shutdown.

Stocks this week rallied to levels not seen since 2008 after the US Congress approved a late deal to lift the US government borrowing limit and end a partial government shutdown.

The resolution to the US debt crisis also boosted gold prices and the Australian dollar, helping goldminers but not the US dollar-exposed resource companies.

The local market enjoyed a large kick on Friday from news that China, the world's second-biggest economy, grew 7.8 per cent in the year to September.

For the week, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped 90.6 points (1.7 per cent) to 5321.5 points and the broader All Ordinaries jumped 92.2 points (1.8 per cent) to 5321 points.

The US debt-ceiling deadline had been ticking down for weeks while concern about missing the deadline had been increasing. So when Republicans and Democrats fashioned a last-minute political truce on Wednesday - effectively pushing the deadline back by a few months - global markets rallied strongly.

The S&P 500 surged to a record high, helping the local market hit its highest level in almost 5 years.

Shareholder confidence behind the rally was reflected in the Australian Securities Exchange's VIX Index, which gauges investor sentiment and closed at 12.349, the lowest this month and a relatively low value historically.

Early on Friday the Australian dollar hit a four-month high US96.48¢ after US budget legislation was passed.

The weaker US dollar helped goldminer Newcrest, which gained 54¢ (5.3 per cent) to close at $10.68.

But the big miners didn't fare as well, with BHP Billiton losing 5¢ to $35.75 while Rio Tinto shed 26¢ to $63.45.

Other companies exposed to the US dollar also fell, including insurer QBE, down 19¢ to $14.59, and healthcare group ResMed down 6¢ to $5.79.

For the week, Warrnambool Cheese and Butter gained 62¢ (8.5 per cent) to $7.89 and Bega Cheese rose 6¢ (1.6 per cent) to $3.88 after diary co-operative Murray Goulburn entered the takeover battle for WCB, trumping rival bidders Bega Cheese and Saputo with a $420 million offer.

Fortescue Metals rose 30¢ (6 per cent) to $5.30 after it said its huge expansion project was all but complete and it was ready to start paying off its $12 billion debt.

Oz Minerals dropped 65¢ (14.8 per cent) at $3.75, after it said it had not achieved its expected production levels of gold and copper at its Malu open pit in South Australia.

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