China's good news drives market higher

THE sharemarket finished in positive territory yesterday, pushed up by encouraging economic data out of China.

THE sharemarket finished in positive territory yesterday, pushed up by encouraging economic data out of China.

The market opened about 20 points higher, drifted back into negative territory and then rose after lunch.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index finished up 31.6 points, or 0.78 per cent, at 4071.8.

China's leading economic indicators were up 0.6 per cent in July, sending its market more than 2 per cent higher.

The leading indicators showed China was withstanding Europe's debt crisis and faltering growth in the US, IG Markets strategist Chris Weston said.

That followed the International Monetary Fund lowering its growth forecasts for the global economy to 4 per cent for this year and next and warning of a return to recession if Western leaders failed to get their economies back on track.

"It's still very positive, China is still that one beacon of global economic strength in a world which seems to be deteriorating before our eyes at the moment," Mr Weston said.

Attention would turn to the two-day meeting of the US Federal Reserve's Federal Open Market Committee meeting and subsequent interest rate decision.

Locally, healthcare, energy and consumer discretionary sectors such as retail were the best performers.

The best performer among the top 50 was Origin Energy, up 60?, or 4.7 per cent, at $13.45.

Next best was healthcare stock CSL, lifting $1.19, or 4.4 per cent, to $28.39.

Retail stocks fared well after David Jones met its financial guidance in delivering a 1.5 per cent fall in annual profit.

It also maintained its forecasts for its first-half profit, despite continuing weakness in consumer spending.

David Jones rose 6?, or 2.2 per cent, to $2.76.

Harvey Norman added 7?, or 3.5 per cent, to $2.05, Myer was up 4?, or 1.9 per cent, at $2.11, and JB Hi-Fi was 12? higher, up 0.8 per cent, at $15.02. The big banks and miners were mixed.

Commonwealth Bank was the worst performer, down 42?, or 1 per cent, to $43.95, while the other three big banks clawed back earlier losses to finish positively.

National Australia Bank found 19? to $22.19, Westpac was up 8? at $19.31 and ANZ added 7? to $19.39.

BHP Billiton was up 33? at $37.13 on a day it revealed chief executive Marius Kloppers's annual pay rose by 8.5 per cent last financial year to $US11.6 million ($A11.33 million).

Gold closed at $US1813.10 an ounce in Sydney, down $US25.57 from $US1787.53 on Tuesday.

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