Financials lead market higher on housing data

Encouraging signs for the housing sector have driven a rise in banking shares, which pushed the market to a fifth straight day of gains.

Encouraging signs for the housing sector have driven a rise in banking shares, which pushed the market to a fifth straight day of gains.

The release of China's latest economic growth figure of 7.5 per cent - in line with expectations - also helped the major resources stocks improve from early lows.

"The financial space saw good buying, probably helped by another solid auction clearance rate in Sydney over the weekend," IG chief market strategist Chris Weston said. "Housing seems in a good space right now, especially after May home loan values have hit their highest level since 2009."

Markets are also tipping a rate cut by the Reserve Bank in August, which would further boost the housing market, and China's economic data - down from 7.7 per cent previously - did nothing to change that view, Mr Weston said.

Westpac was the best-performing bank, up 25¢ to $29.36, while ANZ gained 23¢ to $28.95, Commonwealth Bank added 28¢ to $71.25 and NAB was 9¢ higher at $30.03. Among other financial companies, Macquarie Group gained 42¢ to $45.16 and property owner Goodman Group added 8¢ to $4.80.

In resources, BHP Billiton lost 6¢ to $33.25, up from its earlier low of $32.87, and Rio Tinto added 3¢ to $54.77, up from an earlier low of $54.22.

Smaller miners fared worse, with Fortescue Metals down 4¢ at $3.50, and gold miner Newcrest shed 46¢ to $11.63.

One of the worst performers was Treasury Wine Estates, after it said it would take a $160 million hit from measures it is taking to overcome a glut of stock in the US. Its shares lost 71¢, or 12.2 per cent, to $5.11.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 7.2 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 4981.1. The broader All Ordinaries Index added 8.1 points, or 0.16 per cent, at 4965.6.

On the ASX 24, the September share price index futures contract was four points higher at 4940, with 19,665 contracts traded.

The Sydney gold price was $US1286.07, up $US8.32 from $US1277.75 on Friday.

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