Miners buoy market as banks lose interest

THE sharemarket closed marginally stronger at a nine-month high yesterday after gains by miners were offset by falls among the big four banks.

THE sharemarket closed marginally stronger at a nine-month high yesterday after gains by miners were offset by falls among the big four banks.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index closed up 6.4 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 4435.9.

Investors appeared to take a cautious approach and consolidate Tuesday's gains made in response to the Reserve Bank's decision to lower interest rates by a greater than expected 50 basis points.

"It was quite an underwhelming performance, a bit of a misfire compared to the performance we saw from Wall Street overnight," said CMC Markets senior trader Tim Waterer. "Much of the initial elation from the 50-basis-point cut from the RBA seems to have worn off today."

Mr Waterer said decent manufacturing numbers released in the past 48 hours from several countries, including China, had helped spur the market.

There were falls among the banks as traders waited to see how they would react to the cut in the cash rate.

National Australia Bank was the first to cut its variable home loan rates but by less than the RBA cut, dropping its variable rate by 0.32 percentage points. The other majors are still on the sidelines

National Australia Bank eased 11? to $25.10 while Commonwealth was 17? lower at $52.68 and Westpac retreated 14? to $22.69. ANZ was off 19? at $23.80 after it reported a 10 per cent lift in first-half profit, but said margins in its Australian business were declining.

The resource sector was boosted by stronger commodities prices overnight, including crude oil. BHP Billiton was 28? richer at $36.25 and Rio Tinto added 62? to $66.41.

Bauxite miner and alumina producer Alumina was flat at $1.145 after it said pricing and demand would remain subdued this year as the high dollar continued to pressure the company.

Origin Energy was 23? higher at $13.74 after it struck a deal to supply gas to a joint venture of major energy suppliers.

Woodside Petroleum put on 46? to $36.66 after revealing it had begun shipping LNG at its second Pluto project this week.

APN News & Media was up 0.5? at 84?, as it said its New Zealand media properties were under strategic review and flagged a fall in first-half net profit.

Pallets supplier Brambles was 15? higher at $7.40 after it reported it would meet its full-year profit target.

The release of employment data in the US overnight might affect trading today, Mr Waterer said.AAP

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