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Overseas leads help recovery gain pace

THE sharemarket closed higher yesterday, with sentiment buoyed by rallies on overseas markets, though it pulled back slightly from early-morning gains.

THE sharemarket closed higher yesterday, with sentiment buoyed by rallies on overseas markets, though it pulled back slightly from early-morning gains.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index finished up

45.2 points, or 1.08 per cent, at 4212.8, while the broader All Ordinaries Index was up 44.8 points, or 1.06 per cent, at 4280.5.

On the ASX 24, the September share price index futures contract was up

25 points at 4,193, with 35,408 contracts traded.

CommSec market analyst Juliette Saly said strong European and US leads helped boost investor sentiment, particularly in the financial sector.

"Overnight, shares in Bank of America rallied about 11 per cent after some key analysts rejected suggestions the bank would need to raise capital," she said. "We saw great gains come through for our financial sector as well today."

The big four banks were all higher, with National Australian Bank the strongest performer, up 2.4 per cent, or 53?, at $23.07.

ANZ was up 19? at $19.88, Westpac rose 28?, or 1.4 per cent, to $20.00 and Commonwealth gained 78?, or 1.7 per cent, to $47.49.

"We have seen the Dow futures in negative territory so that could be a reason we have seen a bit of a pull-back at the close," Ms Saly said.

CityIndex chief market analyst Peter Esho said the market was being driven by the results of individual industrial companies this week, with trading based on whether they had met or exceeded expectations.

Woolworths fell $1.52, or 5.6 per cent, to $25.75 after reporting a 5.1 per cent increase in full-year profit in line with expectations.

Virgin Blue Holdings shares rose 3.5?, or 14.9 per cent to 27? despite posting a net loss of $67.8 million for the year to June 30.

Shares in construction company Leighton Holdings lost 70?, or 3.3 per cent, to $20.61, after it unexpectedly appointed Hamish Tyrwhitt as its new chief executive, and Stephen Johns as chairman, a day after chairman David Mortimer suddenly stood down.

Among the miners, BHP Billiton was up 40?, or 1.1 per cent, at $38.61 a day after it reported Australia's biggest-ever full-year profit of $US23.6 billion

($A22.46 billion).

Rio Tinto gained 80?, or 1.2 per cent, to $69.73.

Gold continued to dive, with the spot price down $US98.43 at $US1745.70 an ounce at the Sydney close. It peaked on Tuesday at $US1913.

National turnover was

2.4 billion shares worth

$5.8 billion, with 610 stocks up, 405 down, and 339 were steady.


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