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Market ends the financial year on a high note

THE sharemarket ended the last day of the financial year on a strong note, helped by investor optimism after Greece passed austerity measures to help avoid a default on its debt.

THE sharemarket ended the last day of the financial year on a strong note, helped by investor optimism after Greece passed austerity measures to help avoid a default on its debt.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index closed up 78.5 points, or 1.73 per cent, at 4608, the broader All Ordinaries Index rose 80 points, or 1.75 per cent, to 4659.8. The September share price index futures contract was up 80 points at 4599.

A positive vote in Greece on austerity measures designed to avoid a debt default buoyed sentiment, said a director of EL&C Baillieu Stockbroking, Richard Morrow.

The ASX 200 had fallen more than 7.3 per cent since April 11 but the fall would have been greater if not for gains of 3.3 per cent in the past three days.

The healthcare and industrials sectors led the broader market higher, with health stocks up 2.09 per cent and industrials rising 2.42 per cent.

The plasma group CSL rose 76? to $33.06, and the steelmaker BlueScope Steel rose 5.5? to $1.205.

The biggest mover among the top 20 stocks was Brambles, which rose 3.74 per cent, or 26? to $7.22.

Insurance Australia Group was up 2? at $3.40 after maintaining guidance of an insurance margin of between 8 per cent and 10 per cent for 2010-11. This was after the insurer said the Christchurch earthquake would cost up to $65 million in insurance claims.

Other insurers also rose, with QBE up 21? at $17.25, Suncorp up 13? at $8.14, and Bank of Queensland closing 21? higher at $8.17.

The big miners made strong gains, with BHP Billiton rising 65? to $43.80. Its rival, Rio Tinto, was up $1.46 at $82.99.

Among the banks, Westpac was the standout, rising 44? to $22.26. ANZ rose 40? to $22, National Australia Bank was up 44? at $25.62, and the Commonwealth Bank rose 93? to $52.30.

The gold miner, Newcrest, rose 61? to $37.71. The price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1509.49 an ounce, up $US1.54.

National turnover was 2.98 billion shares worth $5.57 billion.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 72.73 points higher at 12,261.42.


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