Investors return attention to resources
The sharemarket closed higher, led by resource stocks that rebounded after being battered last week due to falling commodity prices.
It was the second consecutive trading day of gains, with most sectors having positive days.
CommSec market analyst Steve Daghlian said the 1.3 per cent gain among resource stocks was much needed after miners had their biggest fall last week since May 2012, losing 7 per cent in five days.
The big miners led the charge on Monday, with Rio Tinto gaining 80¢ to $55.12 and Newcrest up 36¢ to $17.01 while BHP Billiton was up 32¢ at $31.72.
An exception was OZ Minerals, which plummeted more than 10 per cent to 10-year lows after it downgraded copper production guidance and raised cost forecasts. The company's shares shed 51¢ to $4.30 and are down 35 per cent this year.
Telstra was flat at $4.76 after a recent bull run. The telco put on 3.5 per cent last week as offshore concerns sent investors rushing for defensive stocks, and is up 9 per cent this year and gained 31 per cent last year.
National Australia Bank jumped 19¢ to $31.64, while Westpac added 9¢ to $31.32, ANZ gained 16¢ to $28.57 and Commonwealth Bank surged 55¢ to $69.33.
Meanwhile, the dollar has started the week on the back foot, after losing more than three-quarters of a US cent late on Friday.
Late on Monday, the currency was at US102.83¢, down from US103.43¢ on Friday. The dollar started the local session around US102.70¢ after falling on Friday night against a stronger US dollar. The Aussie hit a low of US102.66¢ before it lifted to a high of US103.10¢ around noon.
Analysts said the key driver for the dollar this week would be the release of official inflation figures for the March quarter on Wednesday. The figures would give the market some indication of whether the Reserve Bank had room to further cut the cash rate, now at 3 per cent.
Late on Monday, the Australian dollar was at ¥102.62, up from ¥102.21 on Friday, and at €78.67¢, down from €79.13¢.
Meanwhile, Australian bond futures fell after weakness in US Treasuries. RBC Capital Markets interest rate strategist Michael Turner said the local bond market took its lead from US Treasuries and a move lower in the US dollar against the yen.