Miners back in favour as investors warm to Chinese data

After a mild start, the big miners have heaved the sharemarket firmly into positive territory, with a surge in metal prices fuelling gains in the materials sector.

After a mild start, the big miners have heaved the sharemarket firmly into positive territory, with a surge in metal prices fuelling gains in the materials sector.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 53.5 points, or 1.1 per cent, to 5108.7 as investor sentiment about our biggest trading partner, China, remained upbeat. The broader All Ordinaries rose 55.3 points to 5094.

Patersons Securities analyst Tony Farnham said strong Chinese factory data, released on Friday afternoon, sparked a rally in base metal prices, with the ASX reaping the rewards.

Copper rose 1.2 per cent, its highest in two months, while iron ore firmed 1.3 per cent to $US133.10 a tonne.

"We gave the major resource stocks a bit of a boost [last Friday], but then they got an extra kick again in European and US trading," Mr Farnham said. "You would attribute that to the Chinese numbers."

BHP Billiton shares rose 2.4 per cent to $36.81, while Rio Tinto gained 2.6 per cent to $61.83.

Gold was up for the fourth day in a row, rising 1.2 per cent to $US1330 an ounce.

Evolution led the pack among goldminers, jumping 19 per cent to 92¢, while OceanaGold firmed 7.1 per cent to $1.73. Newcrest gained 7.9 per cent to $12.39 after reporting an annual net loss of $5.78 billion for the year to June 30.

Investor sentiment was bolstered by some companies posting better than expected earnings as reporting season began in earnest.

Electronics and entertainment retailer JB Hi-Fi leapt 3.2 per cent to $19.12 after it announced an 11 per cent jump in full-year profit.

Mr Farnham said investors would be looking towards earnings guidance amid the barrage of financial reports that companies will release in coming weeks.

The dollar was buying US92¢ in late trade. Most analysts are tipping the currency to come under pressure in the months ahead despite a slight recovery in past days.

The big banks all finished in the black, gaining between 0.4 and 1.3 per cent. Telstra also was a strong finisher, advancing 0.6 per cent to $5.11.