Investors take cue from new records on Wall Street
The sharemarket closed almost 1 per cent higher as investors took their cues from positive news in the US.
On Wall Street overnight on Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 111.90 points, or 0.77 per cent, to a record of 14,559.65. Rising house prices and orders for manufactured goods pushed up stocks.
European markets also firmed as investors gained confidence in the bailout plan arranged for Cyprus and its banking system.
EL & C Baillieu Stockbroking director Richard Morrow said the local market had followed the US lead in the absence of local news.
"We've also managed to ignore all of the negative headlines out of Europe," Mr Morrow said.
"The market is bereft of influence because all of the major local profits have been announced, so we're in a bit of a vacuum of news."
Most market participants were packing their bags for the Easter holiday break, so trade on Thursday is expected to be quiet.
At the close of trade on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was 44.8 points, or 0.91 per cent, higher at 4995. The broader All Ordinaries index was up 42.3 points, or 0.85 per cent, at 5007.
In the local resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton was 27¢ higher at $33.19 and Rio Tinto gained 89¢ to $57.82.
Qantas was up 4¢ at $1.76 after it received final approval from the competition watchdog for its global partnership with Dubai-based airline Emirates. Virgin Australia added 1.5¢ to 41.5¢, after the High Court of Singapore gave its blessing to the airline's takeover of regional carrier Skywest.
Global insurer QBE rose 48¢ to $13.42, saying it was on track to meet its financial targets this year as it embarks on a big transformation plan.
Agricultural chemicals supplier Nufarm was in a trading halt pending an announcement about the company's half-year financial results and the outlook for the full year. Nufarm last traded at $4.77.
Linc Energy shares have been placed in a trading halt before an announcement about raising capital, and last traded at $2.67.
The dollar eased slightly to US104.68¢ from US104.82¢.
Bond futures prices were higher as concerns over the Cyprus banking system caused investors to move funds into safe assets.
UBS interest rate strategist Matthew Johnson said the strength of the bond market suggested there were flows of capital out of Europe and into the Australian market.
He said US treasuries and local bond futures had a good overnight session.
The June 10-year bond futures contract was trading at 96.470 (implying a yield of 3.530 per cent) up from 96.405 (3.595 per cent) on Tuesday. The three-year contract was at 97.020 (2.980 per cent), up from 96.950 (3.050 per cent).
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