Financial gains give boost to colourless day

The sharemarket closed slightly higher due to strength among financial stocks.

The sharemarket closed slightly higher due to strength among financial stocks.

The gains came as the Reserve Bank held the cash rate at 3 per cent, equal to its lowest level on record.

CommSec market analyst Tom Piotrowski said banking stocks were under the microscope before bank reporting season but there were no clear drivers of the local market after the four-day Easter holiday.

"The market was able to hold on to its gains," Mr Piotrowski said.

"There weren't too many insights on offer. The banks did pretty well and they'll be supported on any weakness."

Mr Piotrowski said the market did not flinch after the Reserve Bank decided to keep interest rates on hold.

The Australian market on Tuesday also took into account moves on Wall Street on Thursday and overnight.

Among the major banks, National Australia Bank was 11¢ higher at $30.95, ANZ climbed 29¢ to $28.82, Westpac firmed 26¢ to $31.02 and Commonwealth Bank advanced 94¢ to $68.95.

Surfwear retailer Billabong went into a trading halt, having last traded at 73¢, as talks with its two potential suitors dragged on.

Dart Energy fell 4.6¢, or 43.8 per cent, to 5.9¢ after it said it would slash 70 per cent of its workforce to rein in costs in response to tighter government restrictions on coal seam gas projects.

Elsewhere in the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton was down 4¢ at $32.72 and Rio Tinto gave away 70¢ to $56.50.

On Wall Street on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 5.69 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 14,572.85 points as stocks were weakened by mediocre manufacturing data and cautious sentiment.

At the close on Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was 19 points, or 0.38 per cent, higher at 4985.5.

The broader All Ordinaries Index was 15.6 points, or 0.31 per cent, firmer at 4995.5.

The June share price index futures contract was five points lower at 4983, with 21,670 contracts traded.

The price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1601.66 an ounce, down $US4.18 from $US1605.84 on Thursday.

National turnover was 1.63 billion securities worth $4.53 billion.

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